Why Do Some People Say They Have “Fallen In Love With Jesus?”
Why do some people say they have “fallen in love with Jesus?” To me, falling in love refers to romantic love. We don’t have that kind of love for Jesus, do we?
“Love is love” is an expression that has become popular in our culture. Most of us realize, however, that this isn’t really true. The love I have for my books is not the same as the love I have for my cat. The love I have for my children is not the same as I have for my wife, or for my siblings, or for my parents. Love has a tremendous number of expressions, each of which is appropriate to a different kind of relationship.
English has the misfortune of really only having one word for love. In Greek there are a range of different words, words like eros (romantic or sexual love), storge (the love that expresses itself in need-based affection for objects, animals, and even people), charis (the love out of which one gives, and from which we get the word “charity”), and philia (the love that is shared between friends or siblings).
The Bible is our best source for determining what kind of love-language is most appropriate for our relationship with God. Unfortunately, we now live in an age in which pop culture is manufactured and sold to churches, and the institutions which engage in this sort of business are not always the most biblical. Many lesser forms of love which our contemporary culture happen to idolize have found their way into our religious language.
When it comes to God the Father, our relationship is analogous to that between a child and a parent. When it comes to Jesus, our relationship is multi-dimensional, and the Scriptures speak of him not only as our master, but also as our friend. In some passages, he is called our husband, and we are referred to as the bride of Christ, just as ancient Israel was referred to as the bride of YHWH. A couple things to bear in mind however: (1) first, this phrase is always used collectively, and so it is not so much that I am the bride of as it is that we are the bride of Christ; (2) second, marriage in the ancient world was thought of less in terms of romantic love and more in terms of faithful partnership and child-bearing.
“Falling in love,” then, is not a phrase that the biblical writers ever use to describe their relationship with God. While there can be little doubt that those who use this phrase mean well, we probably ought to be cautious about taking it up for ourselves, especially when we are living in a culture that idolizes romantic love as the highest thing life has to offer. There is a great danger that, in taking up the love-language of our contemporary culture, we shall fall into the trap of worshipping a god of our own making rather than the one that is revealed to us in the Bible. For idolatry does not merely consist in the fashioning of images, but also in the fashioning of concepts. A calf made out of gold is no more or less idolatrous than an inadequate or misleading concept of God. Let us therefore take care in the words we choose when we speak of God.
Pastor Chad LewisOctober 1, 2018