In Spike Jonze 2013 film Her, the protagonist played by Joaquin Phoenix is a man whose life in many ways is falling apart. He is disengaged from the world, his marriage is broken down and he cannot emotionally deal with it. The crazy thing is that over time he actually falls in love with his operating system on his phone and computer.

In this futuristic film there is a scene where Phoenix’s character is on a blind date with a woman at a restaurant. She is beautiful and she digs him to the point where she can barely keep her hands off of him. As they walk to their cars after dinner the woman says to him, “Are you going to treat me like those other girls? Are you going to have sex with me and never call again."

Throughout history this would have been a scene where people would say, “This is a no brainer! Take the beautiful woman. Take the lifelong relationship. What more would you want?” Yet as the protagonist hears this woman say these things he backs off. He is confronted with something very frightening to him. He is confronted with commitment and limiting himself if he were to step into this relationship. The erotic temptation of this woman could not overpower his fear that his individual autonomy would be limited.

The story evolves to the point where Phoenix’s character chooses his operating system over a human being. Fear moved him away from what was actually real.

Now, this is often how our attitude can be towards the church. The church, like a beautiful human being, is messy and complex and offers wonderful things, yet at the same time it is limiting. Sacrifices need to be made in human relationships. 

We are inviting all of us to take the risk. We are inviting you to marry the complex, messy, beautiful woman that the church is. 

Because to Paul, the only place where we live out the implications of the gospel is with God’s new humanity. It is where we stand firm and strive together. 

(Adapted from a teaching by Mark Sayers - Red Church)