I, for one, am not in love with Jesus.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love Jesus. He means a great deal to me and I have Him to thank for everything. I want to be more like Him. I want to grow closer to Him – to hear His voice better and to sense His presence more. I enjoy spending time with Jesus and feel more connected to Him after doing so. I want to do what He wants. But I am not romantically involved with Jesus. And I think it is an important distinction to make.
To understand why, here is an excerpt from the article I read:
Today’s Christians use these words in an attempt to describe the passion and excitement that should be present in our spiritual lives. They’re trying to draw a contrast between vibrant, living faith and cold, dead religion.
But this imagery has numerous downsides – particularly when it comes to men.
Romantic imagery is unbiblical. Never in the 66 books of the Bible are humans encouraged to fall in love with God or Jesus.
The term falling in love implies romance. There’s an erotic component to it. The metaphor simply does not convey how God relates to us.
New Testament Greek is very precise in how it describes love. In fact, there are four distinct words that convey the idea of love:
- Eros, or romantic love (we get the word “erotic” from eros);
- Philia, which means brotherly love among peers (the City of Philadelphia is named for philia);
- Storge, or parental love for children;
- Agape, or God’s love – unconditional, eternal and sacrificial.
Some people refer to Song of Solomon or the “Bride of Christ” metaphor to defend the use of romantic language in describing our faith. But these passages refer to Jesus’ relationship to the church (the body of all believers throughout time) – not to the individual’s relationship to God.
Romantic imagery is unhelpful. When we describe our faith in romantic terms, we set believers up for immaturity and failure.
The term “fall in love” describes the opening chapter of a relationship. It’s the emotional, wispy, unpredictable stage. Do we really want disciples to pattern their faith on this volatile model?
When I fell in love with my wife our passion was like the tip of a burning match. It was exciting because it was new and uncertain. Today it’s more like a red-hot coal. Our love may be less outwardly dazzling, but it’s much deeper, stronger and more dependable. The passion is still there — but it smolders rather than blazes.
When pastors use romantic imagery to describe the faith, they put tremendous pressure on believers to maintain a burning-match level of excitement toward God. They imply that the normal Christian life exists at a constant crescendo of enthusiasm. When that frothy fervor eventually calms, some young believers may think their faith is dying. This can lead to feelings of guilt — after all, if you feel distant from God, it’s certainly not his fault.
Romantic imagery can be dangerous because it implies that we should judge our faith by how we feel – instead of judging our feelings according to our faith.
David Murrow, “Stop telling me to fall in love with Jesus”. December 9, 2014.
To read the full article, click here.
If you do have a relationship with Jesus that you would describe as “falling in love” - that's great. I am not writing this to tell you that you are wrong, but to reassure people who haven’t felt that way that they are ok. You don’t have to experience God in that way to be a believer.
I’ll be honest. A few times in my life I have been overwhelmed by God’s presence to the point that I was “seeing stars”, like a young lover might feel after a first kiss. It felt good. Intoxicating, even. But it always felt like I was connecting with just a part of Someone who is immensely larger and more powerful than I am. That type of imbalance would not make a healthy romantic relationship. Plus, these moments have been few and far between in 25 years of walking with Jesus.
Jesus said, “Follow me.” Not “Fall in love with me.”
To Peter He asked, “Do you love me?” Not “Are you in love with me?”
In John 15:5, when Jesus says “Remain in my love” he does not mean “Romance me.”
May you walk closer with Jesus in 2015 than you ever have before.