This is going to seem very minor and petty to some.Â But I think it reflects a theological problem.Â I have noticed that people use this phrase, â€œJane is in love with Jesus,â€ or some similar phrase.Â It bothers me because the preposition â€œinâ€ is an import from our lost and dying culture. It is never found in Scripture.Â In our world people fall in love and out of love everydayâ€“sometimes the same person.Â Being in love is about a feeling and feelings are fragile and easily damaged.Â Is this how we really want to describe our relationship to God?
I much prefer for us to simply say, â€œJane loves Jesus.â€Â It seems so slightly different but there is actually a chasm of meaning between the two.Â Love, defined by Scripture, is something that is enduring and permanent.Â Certainly one can grow in love but it is not something that ends.Â Love is a disposition toward someone, not just our feelings about them. A disposition involves our whole being, it is at the core level of our values. No doubt, it is always good that our feelings line up with our disposition toward someone but sometimes they donâ€™t. Some years ago, a man told me, â€œI love my son, but right now I donâ€™t like him much.â€Â It was a turbulent time in the life of a teenage boy who was rebelling against his father.Â Here the love of this father was unshaken even when emotionally he was not happy with his son.Â Eventually as the boy grew up, matured, his father not only liked him again, he was very proud of him.Â While his emotions moved from place to place, his love was always unshaken.
Real love does this kind of thing.Â The pretend-love of today is that if I love someone, I must approve of everything they do.Â So parents are permissive, schools are permissive, churches are permissive and so the average Christian is permissive.Â This is not the kind of love that we find in Scripture.Â While love is long suffering, it never gives in and calls good bad and bad good (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ).Â The waiting father did just that, he waited for his son to return, he did not lower his standards and join his son in his sin (Luke 15:11-24).Â Love calls for the best in each of us.Â Real love as found is Scripture is best seen in the words, â€œChrist died for our sins.â€Â Love is an action, it is sacrificial and it puts the other person first. God never dumb downs his moral standards but his radical love for us lead him to become flesh, die for us, and rise from the grave.Â He was not just in love with us, he loved us to the superlative degree.
My wife loves me deeply and I love my wife.Â I know that because after 33 years of marriage she is still with me.Â While I was younger, I was not too bad looking, but as I have aged, hair has sprouted from my ears, I am very overweight, I walk a little bit like a chimp, and I think I am shorter!Â Yet, she still loves me.Â If she was merely just in love with me, she would have left a long time ago because what she loved then is no more.Â And that I think, it the fatal flaw for a Christian to use such language when we talk about loving God.Â The world knows what it means to be in love but it is not too sure of what it means to love, particularly as God loves us and as we are trying to learn to love him.Â While God does not change, our perceptions of him do.Â We find that God permits us to suffer or allows bad things to happen to us and we are not so in love anymore.Â We beg God for something and never get it, are we still in love now?
When we love God, we are involved inÂ a divine act.Â As we are being transformed by Christ through his grace, and we learn to love. We learn to love the way God loves us.Â We learn to love others with a divine love.Â We learn to love with a love that cannot end, will not die, or never grow old.Â We are all in the same category here.Â We all must learn to love.Â Though I believe we all love something or someone with real love because we are made in the image of God, even that love is distorted.Â It is always, to some degree, selfish.Â But when we become the subject of Godâ€™s love, we learn something entirely new.Â Our Christian life becomes one long journey of love.
I hope I am not perceived as petty.Â What I want is for people to draw from the rich well of the love of God and drink deeply.Â Once we do, we are never just merely in love with Jesus, we deeply, directly love him.