The other day I was in the car flipping through radio stations and came upon a pretty catchy song on one of the Christian radio stations (yes we have 3 different Christian radio stations). I was honestly enjoying it musically — the vibe, as it were — and then began to notice the lyrics. That kinda ruined the song. The chorus described the singer’s desire for a faith that is:
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Here we have a great encapsulation of the romanticism that is so prevalent in Christian circles (at least in this country) and which permeates pop Evangelicalism. It’s all about feelings and “heart engagement.” We want a worship “experience” that gives us heart palpitations and warm fuzzies more than one that engages us with Truth.
We all are familiar with the “Jesus is my girlfriend” genre of worship music where you could remove the word “Jesus” or “God” and insert a girl’s name and make it a pop ballad. I think that many Evangelicals aren’t “in love” with Jesus as much as they are infatuated.
Look, I’ve got nothing against engaging with God at an emotional level — after all He made us emotional beings and we are to honor Him and pursue Him with our emotions. But if that’s all we’re doing then we are worshiping with less than our all — less than our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
What does this singer want to fall in love with? Presumably Jesus. But without the anchors of Gospel truth, a biblical/theological belief system and the meat of doctrine, he could wind up falling in love with a different Jesus, one of his own making.
The thing about this kind of weak-kneed, infatuation experience is that emotions are fickle and infatuation wanes. The human heart is deceitful, right? The feeling of “falling in love” will retreat when life gets hard, and there will be nothing to hang onto without “something to believe in.” Real love has more to do with “allegiance” than breathlessly “losing my heart.” You have to have something to hold onto when the feeling wanes, something to hang your faith on when your heart is wandering a different direction.
I’m reminded of Francis Schaeffer’s influential argument that the Western experience has been split into two pieces, which he likened as two levels of a house. The lower level was the public life, where you find reason. The upper level is the private life, where you find your emotions, your spiritual beliefs, and that sort of thing. This is why you hear talk of your faith being good for you but not appropriate to be brought into the public sphere (of government, work, etc.). Schaeffer warned against believers being co-opted by this false dichotomy. Songs like this one fit neatly into this bifurcation — the singer is yearning for an “upper level” experience with God without regard to the “lower level.”
That might be temporarily satisfying and give you goosebumps, but it won’t stand the test of time. No thanks. We need both. Give us love that is rooted in Truth.