Farmers Only & Jesus
“You don’t have to be lonely with FarmersOnly.com” is the infectious jingle of one of America’s leading online dating sites. Online dating has soared since its introduction on April 21, 1995 until today where one-in-five adults (aged 25-34) have used online dating and now 5% of Americans who are in a marriage or committed relationship say they met their significant other online. It is clear that many Americans feel like online dating has worked for them over the traditional “boy meets girl” method.
In contrast to this online dating phenomena, is a growing field of study for researchers who argue that online dating does not work. Psychology Today has published “7 Research-Based Reasons Internet Dating Doesn’t Work,” and their seven reasons are:
- We make bad decisions. The more options that exist the more opportunity there is for selecting a bad choice.
- We only get a part impression. The information shared is carefully selected and filtered by the potential dating partner.
- Matching does not work. There is little to no evidence that any matching formula actually works in practice.
- People are not what they seem. 13.3% of males and 6.7% of females misrepresent their relationship status - not to mention height, weight, eye color, etc.
- Be wary of online chat. People tend to share information much faster in online discussion than in face-to-face encounters, which makes for awkward first dates.
- Online is not necessarily a quick way. Research shows that the average user spends between 22 minutes per visit up to 12 hours per week browsing and interacting.
- It often doesn’t work in reality. Many potential matches are geographically separated from the searcher. Unless someone is prepared to move, this is difficult.
Now, before you get your hopes up, we are not launching northpointnuptials.com but I think there is a phenomenal correlation between online dating and following Jesus. Matthew, Mark and Luke all three record a parable by Jesus about a sower who threw seeds on the ground and the seeds landed on four different types of soil. One soil was a hard pathway where the seed couldn’t even penetrate the earth. The second soil looked extremely fertile on the surface but underneath was huge limestone rocks that prevented the roots from reaching a healthy depth. The third soil was fertile ground but it was unkept. The healthy seed grew among weeds and soon the weeds choked out the healthy seed. The fourth soil is rich, healthy earth and the seed grew and produced a bumper crop.
During the last five years, we have had scores of people come in and out of NorthPoint Church. We have watched as many of them have made decisions to follow Jesus but after a few weeks or months they went MIA. The true fact of the matter is that some people hear the gospel and are convinced it is true but their heart is like the soil with the rock underneath or a soil contaminated with weeds. The reason their hearts are this type of soil is often the same reason that internet dating doesn’t always work, such as:
1. People are not what they seem.
People tend to view themselves from a perspective that makes them feel better about themselves. We explain away our faults or look for someone else to deflect blame onto. We make our assets more positive than they actually are and our indiscretions not as egregious as they are. In essence, we make spoof profiles about ourselves and are not ready to handle God’s difference of opinion about who we are. The Bible explains that not only has everyone sinned (Romans 3:23) but that because we sin we deserve to spend eternity in Hell (Romans 6:23). It also says that the good we do, isn’t nearly as good as we think that it is (Isaiah 64:6).
2. We make bad decisions.
I’ve met several people who assumed that when they made a decision to follow Jesus that they wouldn’t have difficulty or be tempted anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth. No where did Jesus say that following him would alleviate stress or trouble, in fact He said it would increase it. Many people have had the truth of God’s word choked out by the weeds of bad decisions. Others have allowed their preconceived notions and ideas to stunt the growth of God’s Word in their hearts, so it never makes it past the surface. Remember, Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
3. It takes longer than we expect.
Following Jesus doesn’t always result in immediate, tangible results. Our society wants everything now. We live in a world of immediate results. Following Jesus is not a one-time decision, but rather it is a life-long commitment to a relationship. This is not about behavior modification or seeing if Jesus can help you out of the situation you’re currently in. Following Jesus is a pursuit that takes from now till the end of time.
I’ll admit, there isn’t much that Jesus and online dating have in common. However, the broken things inside of us that cause us to corrupt a perfectly acceptable method for meeting that special someone are the same broken things that leads us to become distracted or disengaged from a new relationship with Jesus. Maybe you’ve made a decision to follow Jesus before but there was something that stopped the growth of that relationship in your life. Know this, Jesus is always ready to begin again.