I am not in love with Jesus. There, I said it. And it’s true. In fact, sometimes I don’t even like him much. He asks me to do really difficult things. He puts me on the spot. He expects a LOT from me every day, all the time. I’ve been “in love,” and this is not what it felt like.
Jesus’ expectations for me
reveal His character, not mine.
But I love Jesus. I love him more now than I did last year and way more than I loved him twenty years ago. I love him so much that (in my best moments) when he asks me to do something difficult, I simply ask him to go with me. When he puts me on the spot, I turn that spotlight onto him. And when I begin to grasp those massive expectations of his, I fall on my knees with the words of Isaiah, “Woe is me! I am [wo]man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…” (Isaiah 6:5), because his expectations for me reveal his character, showing me I don’t deserve to be loved by him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. –1 John 4:10
The fact is, I never fell in love with Jesus. To fall implies some kind of accident, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus called me. I…I find it hard to explain what I did (This is because I’m completely up-in-the-air on the whole predestination/free-will thing right now.), but I became His (or maybe I already was, and he just showed me…). I already loved him; I know that now. I think God somehow planted that love in my heart. I hung around casually for a while, trying really hard to make him happy, but that got old, so I left. That’s when He really pursued me. He was relentless. And patient. And forgiving. When I finally stopped running, I turned around to him and confessed what he and I both already knew: that I loved him.
If you love me, keep my commands. –John 14:15
At that point, I committed to love, which means I committed to obedience (Can’t get into that here; another time.). I can’t stop or start this love; I don’t fuel it. He does all that. All I do is hang on.
But I am very committed to hanging on.
You see, for me, being “in love” is an emotional high that’s linked to another person. It’s an infatuation. It sees no faults, admits no doubts, and denies the very real risk of heartbreak. I love my husband. We’ve been married for almost twenty years, so I am well aware of his faults…and sometimes I have doubts. We know there’s a risk of heartbreak because we’ve let each other down in the past, and we’ll surely do it again. But I choose to continue loving him. I choose to hang on.
Jesus, of course, has no faults, and all the doubts lie unfounded on my side of the relationship. There is no risk of heartbreak because he will never fail. At the same time, though, I see this relationship realistically. I know he doesn’t offer me a field of daisies and a happy-go-lucky life. I know what it means to obey; sometimes it’s hard; sometimes it hurts.
Jesus prayed about
the permanence of
God’s love in us.
When Jesus prayed for all believers just before Gethsemane, he didn’t pray that we would fall in love with him. He talks instead about the permanence of God’s love in us. It is that love—God’s love—in us that responds to Jesus. Instead of “in love with Jesus,” perhaps we should say, “love with Jesus in me.”
Jesus prayed, “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” –John 17:26
The love of God is simultaneously something we choose and something for which we are chosen. We can deny it. We can doubt it. We can diminish it. But when we declare it and delight in it, that love grows to strengthen us far beyond the emotional high of infatuation.
What do you think about love, particularly our love for Jesus or our response to God’s love for us? How do you feel about being “in love” with Jesus? I’m open to dialogue here.