On Falling in Love with Jesus

Zazzle.com T-Shirt

This morning while taking the kids to school Shannon turned to me and said, “I bet you don’t like this song.” I replied I didn’t know the song that was playing on KLTY at the time. As I listened I heard these lyrics to Jason Gray‘s “More Like Falling in Love“.

…It’s like I’m falling in love, love, love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made
Me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me

My initial reaction was disbelief. Do I really understand what he is saying? Is this the new poster child for “Jesus is my boyfriend songs”? What does falling in love has to do with the gospel?

Now several hours later, I am open to the fact that may not be completely accurate in my understanding of what Jason Gray is trying to say in the song. That said, I am still convinced that this song does not line up with Scripture.

Falling in love with Jesus has nothing to do with our salvation nor its fruits (the change Gray speaks of). How is this different from a Muslim saying they fell in love with Mohammed? Or a Buddhist proclaiming that falling in love with the Buddha brought about the change in his/her life. As Chris Rosebrough has said, what about a burrito? Why couldn’t a burrito produce this life change?

Michael Horton book The Gospel Driven Life

Folks we are not part of the gospel! My ability/inability to fall in love with Christ has nothing to do with my salvation. The gospel is entirely outside of us as Michael Horton notes in The Gospel-Driven Life:

It is an “external Word” spoken by another person to me in the name of Christ. The gospel doesn’t depend on anything in me at all; it is an objective completed work. The gospel is entirely outside of you! (p 26)

The gospel is an announcement of the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15). It happened 2,000 years ago. While we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and rose for our justification.

Don’t I need to do something to change? Again, let me quote from Horton:

The gospel transforms us in heart, mind, will, and actions precisely because it is not itself a message about our transformation. Nothing that I am or that I feel, choose, or do qualifies as Good News. On my best days, my experience of transformation is weak, but the gospel is an announcement of a certain state of affairs that exists because of something in God, not something in me; something that God has done, not something that I have done; the love in God’s heart which he has shown in his Son, not the love in my heart that I exhibit in my relationships. Precisely as the Good News of a completed, sufficient, and perfect work of God in Christ accomplished for me and outside of me in history, the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” not only at the beginning but throughout the Christian life. In fact, our sanctification is simply a lifelong process of letting that Good News sink in and responding appropriately: becoming the people whom God says that we already are in Christ. (p 77)

Ok Eric, but can’t I fall in love with Jesus during this process of sanctification? I am not going to say you can’t. What I am going to say is that even if you do, that falling in love part doesn’t produce the change. If it did produce the change, what happens when the emotions fade? Like Paul (Romans 7) I struggle with sin. I am, according to Luther “Simul Iustus Et Peccator“, or “At Once Justified and Sinner”. For this very reason, my faith must be in the one who began the good work (Philippians 1:6) for salvation is a work of God (Jonah 2:9) from beginning to the end (Romans 8:28-30).

One last quote from Horton on this issue:

Do I define the Jesus study or does it define me? Is Jesus’s significance objective and universal, which I am simply to acknowledge and embrace, or do I determine his significance in my own life? Paul tells believers “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). (p 116)

So we are to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15). This gospel of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who in dying on the cross satisfied the justice of God; exhausted the wrath of God; removed our sins from the presence of God; redeemed us from the curse of God and reconciled us to God. But the Good News does not stop there he rose from the grave; justified us before God; and reigns as the firstborn from the dead. This gospel saves us, sanctifies us, and will glorify us. Rest in Christ alone. Soli Deo Gloria!

About that image up top, if you do think falling in love with Jesus is the greatest, Zazzle.com has a t-shirt for you.

8 thoughts on “On Falling in Love with Jesus

  1. Eric,

    Great post. Our popular culture has so bled into the church that the language of 60's and 70's pop songs has now become fodder for 'deep' worship and 'commitment' to the Lord. This leaves any non-gay male in the church in a position of being totally out of place in these kind of worship services, and under this kind of teaching.

  2. Thank you! I must admit I sort of kind of…DETEST this song.:)
    I especially shudder at:
    “More like falling in love than something to believe in more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance.”
    No, in fact, it is about giving your allegiance. How many times does the average human fall in and then out of love? How many times does he “lose his heart?” If this is what one’s faith boils down to, then prepare to be in and out of the faith & the walk, blown about by shifting winds. Jesus, won’t you be my crush, for now, until another comes along?

  3. Thank you! I must admit I sort of kind of…DETEST this song.:)
    I especially shudder at:
    “More like falling in love than something to believe in more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance.”
    No, in fact, it is about giving your allegiance. How many times does the average human fall in and then out of love? How many times does he “lose his heart?” If this is what one's faith boils down to, then prepare to be in and out of the faith & the walk, blown about by shifting winds. Jesus, won't you be my crush, for now, until another comes along?

  4. Hey Eric,

    You tweeted me and asked if you misunderstood the meaning of my song. I would say yes, but I think it’s more accurate to say that you misunderstood what I meant by love and falling in love. I’ve written several blogs about this topic here if you’d like to read them: http://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/jfhblog/template_archives_cat.asp?cat=35 (I wrote each of them with a different kind of audience in mind)

    But I think it’s important to begin with knowing that I came to the song with the conviction that we’re all of us afraid of love and resist it, even flee from it – all of us, whether we are spiritually inclined or completely secular. And I think we flee from it because we instinctively know how dangerous and upsetting love – real love – is.

    Our culture flees from love by redefining it as emotionally or sensually driven self-worship. Religious people flee from it by taking shelter in legalistic piety or cool intellectual assent. In my opinion, anyway. (this is perhaps oversimplification, but I don’t want to write a book of a response here :-)

    I agree with you that “Jesus as my boyfriend” songs are at worst misleading and at best just kind of annoying. However, “Jesus as my husbandman, the church (me and you) as his bride” kind of songs are true and necessary, and that’s a part of what I was trying to get at in this song. I’m much more comfortable with cerebral proclamations, and the challenge for me was how to communicate this in a way that connects with people, and if it’s a song about the transformational power of love, I guess it ought to feel and sound like a love song.

    But I’m afraid that you’ve misunderstood my definition of love. As a married man and father of three children I understand that love will require of me more than any obligation will. Obligations ask for servitude, but love asks for my all – asks me to lay down my very life. I’ve also experienced love – true love, not hollywood love – as grace. Have you ever tried to fall in love? Did you ever have to muster up your love for your children? Or did it just come to you, unbidden, like a gift? I agree, that there are times where I must will myself to be faithful to the demands of loving my wife and my kids, and this is where loving becomes an act of obedience, but at the end of the day, the love I have for them is a gift, and it is a gift that empowers me (when I let it) to love them better. It is a grace. A gift from God that changes me and asks me to give more than I ever thought I had it in me to give.

    And it’s the marriage relationship and the relationship between parent and child where the deepest truths of the gospel are revealed – self sacrifice, commitment, and forgiveness. This is the love I’m talking about. It’s only in the context of loving relationship that the words “for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten song” reveal the depth of their meaning to us. We love our children, and so we feel a sense of the cost and the weight of what it means to give your only son…

    I would argue that the whole of the bible is about love. You may seek to remove us as the object of God’s love from the gospel, and I’ve heard many such arguments and even understand and agree with them to a point, but the gospel itself doesn’t kick us out of the picture. The bible begins with a relationship, God walked with us in the garden in intimate relationship. The relationship was broken when we sinned against God and the whole of scripture is the beautiful story of God’s work to restore that relationship. It’s a love story about a Father who loves a prodigal song, about a groom returning for his bride.

    I would argue that we retreat to legalistic rule-keeping systems and ivory tower ideologies of religion in order to protect ourselves from love. These kinds of religiosity make our faith more manageable, and give us a sense of accomplishment. It puts the ball in our court and the emphasis on our own righteousness. But in the vernacular of the song I wrote, to “fall in love” means to lose control. In fact, it means to abandon control! To be swept off of our feet by something that overpowers us. To fall in love with Jesus Christ is a gift of grace. It is another way of saying that it is by grace that we are saved. Falling in love with Jesus isn’t something we manufacture. It may be something we surrender to, and the truth is we might not even have to do so much as surrender.

    When I fell in love with my wife, it just happened… it took me by surprise. Is this a small taste of what the work of salvation is like?

    And my experience is that this kind of love, where I submit control and self preservation, will produce in me a deeper devotion and obedience than mere cool intellectual assent in an ideology and fear/shame based obedience will. As I wrote in one of my blogs, doing what my wife wants out of a sense of obligation produces less than when I let my love for her guide my care for her.

    As apologist and minister Ravi Zacharias has said: “love without emotion is drudgery, but love without will is mockery”. When I read through the lyrics of my song, I don’t see anything that encourages a lack of will to obedience. I read a call to come alive to the deepest truth of the gospel. But I do look around me and see a lot of people whose faith expression looks more like drudgery than the vibrant and joyful response to a beautiful and gracious God.

    Love will change us, and ask us for our whole life, and that’s why – I propose – that we so often flee from it. At least I know that’s why I have for so many years. For years I intellectualized my faith to protect my heart from it. I’m still inclined toward this kind of cowardice, because it’s in my sinful nature. But I’m trying to let go, and let Love have it’s way with me – tearing me down, making me new.

    G.K. Chesterton, the great apologist and informer of C.S. Lewis’ thinking wrote that our religion should look less like a theory and more like a love affair. Amen to that. I would humbly ask you, if I may be so bold, to read Romans, Galations, and of course the gospels through the lens of a love story – not a hollywood love story, but a divine one – and if you still think I’ve missed the mark, then I can offer nothing more except that I’m a sinner with a darkened mind who is reaching for the light with all his might, and trying to understand the great mystery of the gospel to the best of my ability, which is admittedly quite modest.

    Thanks for caring enough to engage the song – I love that! That’s what I hope for, I hope that people will listen, engage the lyric, and run to the word of God. For doing that, I thank you. And I would submit that it is your love for God and his word that drove you to do this. Be blessed.

    Jason Gray

  5. Hey Eric,

    You tweeted me and asked if you misunderstood the meaning of my song. I would say yes, but I think it's more accurate to say that you misunderstood what I meant by love and falling in love. I've written several blogs about this topic here if you'd like to read them: http://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/jfhblog/templa… (I wrote each of them with a different kind of audience in mind)

    But I think it's important to begin with knowing that I came to the song with the conviction that we're all of us afraid of love and resist it, even flee from it – all of us, whether we are spiritually inclined or completely secular. And I think we flee from it because we instinctively know how dangerous and upsetting love – real love – is.

    Our culture flees from love by redefining it as emotionally or sensually driven self-worship. Religious people flee from it by taking shelter in legalistic piety or cool intellectual assent. In my opinion, anyway. (this is perhaps oversimplification, but I don't want to write a book of a response here :-)

    I agree with you that “Jesus as my boyfriend” songs are at worst misleading and at best just kind of annoying. However, “Jesus as my husbandman, the church (me and you) as his bride” kind of songs are true and necessary, and that's a part of what I was trying to get at in this song. I'm much more comfortable with cerebral proclamations, and the challenge for me was how to communicate this in a way that connects with people, and if it's a song about the transformational power of love, I guess it ought to feel and sound like a love song.

    But I'm afraid that you've misunderstood my definition of love. As a married man and father of three children I understand that love will require of me more than any obligation will. Obligations ask for servitude, but love asks for my all – asks me to lay down my very life. I've also experienced love – true love, not hollywood love – as grace. Have you ever tried to fall in love? Did you ever have to muster up your love for your children? Or did it just come to you, unbidden, like a gift? I agree, that there are times where I must will myself to be faithful to the demands of loving my wife and my kids, and this is where loving becomes an act of obedience, but at the end of the day, the love I have for them is a gift, and it is a gift that empowers me (when I let it) to love them better. It is a grace. A gift from God that changes me and asks me to give more than I ever thought I had it in me to give.

    And it's the marriage relationship and the relationship between parent and child where the deepest truths of the gospel are revealed – self sacrifice, commitment, and forgiveness. This is the love I'm talking about. It's only in the context of loving relationship that the words “for God so loved the world he gave his only begotten song” reveal the depth of their meaning to us. We love our children, and so we feel a sense of the cost and the weight of what it means to give your only son…

    I would argue that the whole of the bible is about love. You may seek to remove us as the object of God's love from the gospel, and I've heard many such arguments and even understand and agree with them to a point, but the gospel itself doesn't kick us out of the picture. The bible begins with a relationship, God walked with us in the garden in intimate relationship. The relationship was broken when we sinned against God and the whole of scripture is the beautiful story of God's work to restore that relationship. It's a love story about a Father who loves a prodigal song, about a groom returning for his bride.

    I would argue that we retreat to legalistic rule-keeping systems and ivory tower ideologies of religion in order to protect ourselves from love. These kinds of religiosity make our faith more manageable, and give us a sense of accomplishment. It puts the ball in our court and the emphasis on our own righteousness. But in the vernacular of the song I wrote, to “fall in love” means to lose control. In fact, it means to abandon control! To be swept off of our feet by something that overpowers us. To fall in love with Jesus Christ is a gift of grace. It is another way of saying that it is by grace that we are saved. Falling in love with Jesus isn't something we manufacture. It may be something we surrender to, and the truth is we might not even have to do so much as surrender.

    When I fell in love with my wife, it just happened… it took me by surprise. Is this a small taste of what the work of salvation is like?

    And my experience is that this kind of love, where I submit control and self preservation, will produce in me a deeper devotion and obedience than mere cool intellectual assent in an ideology and fear/shame based obedience will. As I wrote in one of my blogs, doing what my wife wants out of a sense of obligation produces less than when I let my love for her guide my care for her.

    As apologist and minister Ravi Zacharias has said: “love without emotion is drudgery, but love without will is mockery”. When I read through the lyrics of my song, I don't see anything that encourages a lack of will to obedience. I read a call to come alive to the deepest truth of the gospel. But I do look around me and see a lot of people whose faith expression looks more like drudgery than the vibrant and joyful response to a beautiful and gracious God.

    Love will change us, and ask us for our whole life, and that's why – I propose – that we so often flee from it. At least I know that's why I have for so many years. For years I intellectualized my faith to protect my heart from it. I'm still inclined toward this kind of cowardice, because it's in my sinful nature. But I'm trying to let go, and let Love have it's way with me – tearing me down, making me new.

    G.K. Chesterton, the great apologist and informer of C.S. Lewis' thinking wrote that our religion should look less like a theory and more like a love affair. Amen to that. I would humbly ask you, if I may be so bold, to read Romans, Galations, and of course the gospels through the lens of a love story – not a hollywood love story, but a divine one – and if you still think I've missed the mark, then I can offer nothing more except that I'm a sinner with a darkened mind who is reaching for the light with all his might, and trying to understand the great mystery of the gospel to the best of my ability, which is admittedly quite modest.

    Thanks for caring enough to engage the song – I love that! That's what I hope for, I hope that people will listen, engage the lyric, and run to the word of God. For doing that, I thank you. And I would submit that it is your love for God and his word that drove you to do this. Be blessed.

    Jason Gray

  6. A quick reply to zmster – I totally agree with you, but again that’s assuming love as our culture defines it, not the kind of biblical love that I speak of. It’s discouraging to me that people – especially Christians – have such a low opinion of “love” and assume the worst. Hell has dealt us a mighty blow by robbing us of the meaning of a word that scripture employs in such revolutionary passages as “no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends” or “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son” and “perfect love casts out all fear” and “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” This kind of love we understand as not shallow emotionalism, but as transformational – as something that will ask of us our very life.

  7. A quick reply to zmster – I totally agree with you, but again that's assuming love as our culture defines it, not the kind of biblical love that I speak of. It's discouraging to me that people – especially Christians – have such a low opinion of “love” and assume the worst. Hell has dealt us a mighty blow by robbing us of the meaning of a word that scripture employs in such revolutionary passages as “no greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends” or “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son” and “perfect love casts out all fear” and “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” This kind of love we understand as not shallow emotionalism, but as transformational – as something that will ask of us our very life.

  8. Jason,
    I apparently didn’t have replies forwarded & then lost this blog/post. I’m just now seeing your reply. I appreciate where you’re coming from,although I still think the song,heard in the middle of other “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs on say… a mega CCM network might be takenĀ  differently than you intended. Clearly, I’ve taken it differently than you intended too. Sorry ’bout that. Also,sorry I came across so strongly. May I say that (in the time since) I’ve come to absolutely LOVE “I Am New” & “Remind Me Of Who I Am” & have tried to increase the awareness of both online. I appreciate your willingness to engage,especially with those of us who didn’t “get it” or see things differently. Is there something specific we could agree in prayer w/ you for,perhaps especially w/ your new project just out?

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