Gods At War, Week 3 — The “Lovesick” Sermon Rewind

Yesterday’s message …

  • Began dictionarily and ended Christologically;
  • Referenced the sickness of an elevator music song with the lyrics “it’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along”;
  • Had ANOTHER shoutout to “you complete me” PLUS a wardrobe demonstration;
  • Zeroed in on this bottom line: God has already done IN you what you want a mate to do FOR you.


If I am just a little bit excited today it’s because we get to start with a QUICK Vocab lesson and you should be excited, too, because the vocab lesson is NOT about a religious word. The word? Limerence. (AV) And what is that? Ah, it’s when you’re 14. And you catch this enormous break and your parents take you on a cruise ship, at a time before cruise ships were even that big a deal. On on the cruise you meet a girl named Delys (AV) and because you’re from Dallas and those two words sound alike, she pays you attention. And your palms sweat and your heart races and your eyes dilate and you get a pit in your stomach. You wake up thinking hoping you’ll see Delys soon and you go to bed at night planning on how you’ll run into her. And then the time when she makes sure everyone else has to move down the row but you get to stay next to her because of the Delys/Dallas thing, you’re done. You. Are. Smitten.
But there’s a shadow side. It’s the fear of rejection … the fear she’ll realize you’re a scrawny tennis player and not a buff footballer, that she won’t write back when the cruise is over, that she’ll realize how far out of your league she really is. And that fear of rejection is actually stronger than the lure of attraction which is why the dopamine in your brain giving you the rush is oft followed by serotonin which can cause a crash. All of this is why limerence is better translated as lovesick.
And I suspect more than a few of you have had it. At 14. Or 44. Or 64. Maybe even have it now. Some of you remember it as the one who got away in high school and part of the reason you’re on social media now is to reconnect that person from then. Others remember it as the one you never had or, even, for an elite few of you, you know that someone was lovesick, limerence-filled towards YOU. For a lot of you, that lovesickness led to matrimony and even if your brain isn’t on a constant dopamine trip today, the marriage is alive. And then, I KNOW, some of you ARE married and yet the lovesickness hit and hit hard – at 30 or 40 ot 60 — & the old song is just a little too close for comfort: “Yes it’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along.” (Play clip) Turns out a vocab lesson is a life lesson & you’re learning it. And it’s a god.
It’s also a lesson learned and a god worshipped by an unnamed woman who meets Jesus in John 4. In some Xn circles, this is a well known story, famous for one verse taken out of context and turned into a music-y mantra, but today is a much different look at it. Today, I am glad to have at long last seen for myself the connection between the two key elements of TRIPS TO THE WELL and A BATCH OF HUSBANDS. Huh? Here’s the situation. It’s John 4 so Jesus is early in his ministry & John tells us in 4:4 that he had to go through Samaria which is NOT true in terms of geography but WAS true when you think of his assignment: Now he had to go through Samaria. Samaria was outcast, out there, sketch.
And while going through his assignment field, Jesus stops by a well – a watering hole – at around noon. A woman shows up, by herself, John’s way of saying “this one? She’s got no friends. Respectable women come TOGETHER and IN THE MORNING; the one’s who’ve been around come by themselves in the middle of the day.” In our day, it’s almost like saying she shows up at a bar, by herself, after midnight. Yet there is an added element of drudgery to it: she has to make this solitary, almost humiliating trip every day. Back and forth. Getting that heavy water on the walk of shame. Get up the next day and do it again.
And what happens next is that Jesus & this sketchy, burdened woman have a dialog that just misses on almost every level, as Jesus uses words in one way and she hears them in another. Look at 4:9-10:

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

READ. “Living water” there means moving, running water rather than a stagnant pool, so she is interested. Then Jesus LEANS IN with a startling claim in 4:13-14:

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Never again. What I offer is so complete, so comprehensive, so satisfying that nothing is as good or takes its place. NOW she is moved from skeptic to intrigued … she thinks she can stop going to the well! No more drudgery! Look at 4:15:

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Real progress there.
And it would be great if the story stopped there, with her encouraging move from the literal to the symbolic and the physical to the spiritual and that’s that. But the story doesn’t stop there; in fact, it only starts getting good there! Jesus asks the most “innocent” & “obvious” of questions with the most devious of intentions in 4:16:

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

READ. Doh! And the answer in 4:17a:

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

READ which is not news to Jesus as he explains in 4:17b-18:

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

And there it is. Suddenly the connection between TRIPS TO THE WELL and a BATCH OF HUSBANDS becomes vividly clear. She has to keep coming back, day after day, to the drudgery of the well because the water it provides is never enough. You always need more, different. In the same way, she’s evidently been going back, year after year perhaps?, guy after guy for sure!, looking for something that no way in the world can he provide. This trip – this guy – this will be the one! I’ll be content, I’ll be complete. What’s happened to the Samaritan woman is that she has a chronic case of lovesickness! Lingering limerence! And every batch of medicine she takes (the newest guy) is slightly less effective than the one before it!
You’ve been there. For some, it’s why the second marriage is actually worse than the first and the 3rd is the worst yet. Others it’s why when you’re single you’ve had a series of unhealthy relationships. Teens and collegians, it’s why you’ve compromised what you believe and who you are to get and/or keep that girl or that guy. You’re trusting in the god of love, in the divinity of someone else to make you whole & the result is a little more sick & lil less love.
It’s not like culture helps, either. After all, you can’t be a Disney Princess without a … what? A prince! Or you keep waiting for that knight in shining armor and every time he turns out to be nothing more than an idiot in a metal suit. Or the guy here – and you got so flattered & so charged when she touched your arm. And now, you know, sadly, you’re not the first and not the only. Anyone who will cheat with you will easily cheat on you.
Which is why I go back to Jesus’ words in 4:13-14:

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Ah, the finality of it. The indicative of it. The done-ness of it. The supreme confidence that in ME – Me alone, not my words, not my path, not my direction, me – is the secret of life, the core of contentment, the APPROVAL OF THE KING THAT IS SO MUCH MORE STABLE AND ENDURING THAN THE APPLAUSE OF THE CROWD. She is looking for love in all the wrong places with all the wrong guys when the reality is that love has already found her.

Because here’s what Jesus says to a lovesick woman who had put the god of love on the throne of her life and it always let her down: God has already done IN you what you want a mate to do FOR you.. The search for love and meaning and purpose in another person is totally doomed failure because you’re asking something of them that they are completely incapable of providing.
I’ve shown you this clip before but between last time and this time I discovered it was voted MOST ROMANTIC MOVIE MOMENT EVER: You complete me. Bull! If there had been a Jerry Maguire 2, scene 1 of that film would have been how Renee didn’t really complete Tom after all, Tom found another completer – cuz he’s Tom! – and each round resulted in people hollowed out and never filled in. That’s all IF there was a JM 2 and maybe if we wrote that screenplay there SHOULD be!
God has already done IN you what you want a mate to do FOR you
Because what I am talking about is like with these shirt buttons (first wrong, all wrong demo). If romantic love is the first love in your life, you will be guaranteed a life of mis-alinged, mostly ill, love.
God has already done IN you what you want a mate to do FOR you
You ready for a very unpopular and uncomfortable truth? For some of you, it’s you MARRIAGE that is the idol. It’s ironic, I know, especially in light of The Beautiful Marriage Project. But the reason that some of you who are lawfully married are unhappily so is because you depend on your mate to do what Jesus alone has already done. You think if you’re not partnered, you’re pathetic; if you’re not together you’ll fall apart. And your mate is having a very dif time living under that pressure because get this: your mate is a TERRIBLE god. Awful at it. It’s all why I’m so convinced as I’ve told you before that ppl don’t have marriage problems so much as they have PROBLEMS that get brought into marriage and then magnified.
Man, if your identity, your reason for living and your hope of dying is anything other than these ION words – INCARNATION, INSTRUCTION, CRUCIFIXION, RESURRECTION, ASCENSION, COMPLETION (AV, dissolve) – I feel for you. You’ll never need Renee Z or anyone else to complete when Jesus has done it already by faith and will do it by sight when he returns.
God has already done IN you what you want a mate to do FOR you
Which is why my heroes and heroines at this church are those people who lost a mate without losing their faith. Some of them lost a mate young and suddenly while for others it was at a later age and over a long process. But in each case the result was the same — loss of mate resulted, amazingly, in growth in faith. Hallelujah those are the folks I admire.
God has already done IN you what you want a mate to do FOR you
And if you’re single today, a couple of questions for you to consider: ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED IN YOUR LOVE LIFE? If yes, that’s could well be because you have allowed the good of love to become the god of romance. And WHO COMPLETES YOU? Do you keep going back to the same dry well? The same list of girls or guys? The same hookup culture?
Well, do you remember our lovesick Samaritan woman? Caught with all those husbands and all those trips to the well? I said earlier that I wish the story had ended at 4:15; I actually was quite mistaken. There is a marvelous pattern as the story continues; John, as is typical of these brilliant biblical authors, weaves subtle yet unmistakable truth into his story. Look at the progression in how the woman addresses Jesus through the story: READ 4:9. 11, 15, 19, 25, 25. Ahh. A pile of ascending adjectives! And to the last one Jesus thunders I AM HE, recalling what God said to Moses in Exodus 3: I AM THAT I AM. You know what those ascending adjectives and Jesus’ confirmation all mean? The woman, at the end of the story, as dethroned the god of love and ENTHRONED THE KING OF KINGS.
Won’t you do the same. And you’ll move from lovesick to loving well.