Wednesday, January 28, 2009

There's no catch

The other day I mentioned one of my all-time favorite TV shows, The Pretender. It aired in the late 90's. In recent years I've really been enjoying a USA Network program: Monk (along with another USA program called Psych). They're both well-written and well-acted shows, with comedy and drama mixed into both.

Adrian Monk is a detective who "developed an extreme case of obsessive-compulsive disorder" after the tragic death of his wife, Trudy. Monk is "consumed by peculiar obsessions and wracked with hundreds of phobias," and it makes for some great comedy as he drives people crazy, while at the same time solving cases like no one else can.

In last Friday's episode, Monk finds himself being surprisingly befriended by an older woman. She sort of embraces him like a mother, and she's able to help him get past some of his quirks as she loves him unconditionally and encourages him to do such things as cross a road while the sign says "Don't Walk," eat mixed vegetables, rearrange the furniture in his apartment, and do a few other things that his obsessive-compulsiveness normally doesn't allow him to do.

Early on in the episode, Mr. Monk comments to his assistant, Natalie, that when people embrace him or act nicely towards him, there's always a catch. They want something from him. Well, during the course of this episode, Monk ends up suspecting that his new friend's neighbor is the murderer in a case he is trying to solve. But yet the man has an alibi: Monk's new friend says she saw the man at home, playing his drums, at the time the murder happened. But Monk begins putting the clues of the case together, and he comes to the conclusion that this woman is actually the suspect's mother - not just his neighbor - and that she had lied to the police about the man's alibi.

Monk goes through his whole "Here's what happened" scenario that he does near the end of every program. He lays out his accusations toward the woman, as she stands there in puzzlement, wondering where all of these accusations are coming from. But Monk feels so very deceived, and he repeats his claim that there's "always a catch" when someone loves him unconditionally. He says the woman was only using him to cover up for her son. Now, usually when Monk comes to this "Here's what happened" revelation, he's right on target. However, in this case it turns out that the murder suspect's real mother posts bail for him. This woman who had befriended Monk was telling the truth all along, and had truly been loving him and accepting him as he was, with no "catch." Monk's suspicions about her had been wrong.

Do you have any "suspicions" about God? Do you think that in the midst of all this talk about His "unconditional love" there must be a catch? Sure, He does some nice things, but really He's not who people say He is. There's no way He can truly accept you as you are, and interact with you as His beloved child, right? He wants something from you. He's got ulterior motives. Sure, He's helped you to get over some of your fears and phobias, but really He's out to get you and deceive you. His love isn't really unconditional.

It seems to me that many people that I've come across in the church "talk the talk" about God's unconditional love, but yet they live in fear of Him, or they live as if there's got to be some "catch." They've got to perform up to a certain standard for Him. They end up putting all these conditions on God's unconditional love! But with God, there are no strings attached. He loves you and accepts you as you are. You don't need to try and figure out what the catch is, because there is no catch!

Bottom line: Live loved!


  1. I have been playing around with "As Good As It Gets" in my mind lately. We must be having OCD thoughts!

    Joel, do you know how much you bless and encourage us??

    You TRULY is da BESTEST!!

  2. Hey! Sorry, but you bless and encourage ME a whole lot more! I'm serious! Can't wait to see you in person in 2 months!

    Speaking of "Better Than We Know" and "As Good As It Gets," check out this blog I recently discovered. I don't think I agree with this guy on every last thing, but check out the title of his book, pictured on the right column. :)

  3. Joel and Jamie, You both encourage me, and when I say it there is no catch. :)

  4. Such great truth, here, Joel!
    Monk is a great show, by the way! I only know about it cause hubby loves it, too! It IS a fun show to watch... and that's coming from someone who RARELY even watches TV.
    Thanks for the post!!

  5. Just like I'm not all that much of a sports fan, I'm also not all that much of a TV watcher, either. But I do have a few fav's like Monk, Psych, Funny Videos and the new Doctor Who.

    If you haven't, I'd suggest you give Psych a try, I think you'd like it. It's funny, and it's got some subtle 80's themes strung into it. Right after Monk on Fridays.