There is this song that has been on Christian radio for a while. It’s called “More Like Falling in Love.” Here are a couple lines from the chorus:
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
This song speaks of what the life of faith should be. The main point being that our faith should be something that is heartfelt and not cold and indifferent. That's good. Yet, it follows one of the predominant ways that our evangelical subculture views Jesus: a “boyfriend” that we fall madly in love with. At the center of our faith understanding in much of evangelicalism is the idea of a personal relationship. A personal relationship that has us flipping head over heels in love! He describes the process of change as falling in love rather than a belief to be held or a giving of allegiance.
Among other things, I find it strange that losing your heart or falling in love would be contrasted with giving allegiance. Is allegiance (or belief for that matter) something of cold indifference? Is giving allegiance a lifeless action that will leave us unchanged?
If, when we think of giving allegiance, we imagine a 5th grade boy coldly reciting the allegiance to the flag each morning, then I guess I understand that.
But allegiance is much more robust. Think of any revolution. There was a cause. There was a charismatic leader. There was something that the revolutionaries were swept up into. People joined the revolution and gave their allegiance to it. They committed themselves to something bigger than themselves. They found something to live for. They found something to die for. They were losing their hearts to something far greater!
I believe that giving allegiance is more profound and biblical than the “falling in love” motif. I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time critiquing the “falling in love” motif, but I would like to point out that this picture doesn’t really work for many of us. Church leaders have pointed out repeatedly that men are not engaged in the church and that we need to draw men to church. Maybe a good start would be realizing that most men are not flipping head over heels for the “falling in love” with Jesus theme. It doesn’t speak to our hearts. Yes, we love Jesus, but to appeal to themes of romance and the flighty emotions at the beginning of a relationship aren’t really what that love is all about.
One of my favorite verses is Samuel 22:2. In this passage David has yet to become King and is on the run from Saul. It says that, “everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.” This motley crew of the debtors, the distressed, and the bitter had found someone to give their allegiance. He became commander over them. They gave their loyalty and devotion to him and they fought for him. Their mighty deeds are even recorded in Scripture. Their great acts flowed from a deep loyalty to the one they saw as the rightful king. Was this cold and lifeless?
Maybe following Jesus is more like giving our allegiance than falling in love. It is more like joining a revolution than the first few months of a romantic relationship. Jesus is the King that gathers the debtors, the distressed, and bitter in soul to him. What gratitude we have for a King who gave us so much! How our hearts are swept up in what he is doing in the world! It’s more than being swept off our feet! It’s more than butterflies in our stomach! The emotions run deeper than the temporary state of falling in love. We are caught up and called out by a King. We confess that “Jesus is Lord.” This is a confession of allegiance and a statement of belief that isn’t devoid of emotion; it is the cry of a heart filled with passion and love.
We are given a call to revolution: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
It opens up to us a whole new world. Not an isolated world of a personal and oftentimes private relationship. It’s the world of a Kingdom coming, of a King calling, of a fellowship of brothers and sisters boldly committed to the King. Yes, we are overcome by the love Jesus for us. Yes, we are filled with emotion in gratitude to Jesus. But the calling Jesus places on our lives is a call to arms. This Calling gives us more than butterflies in our stomach; it burns with passion in our chest. This call involves bold things like bearing a cross, loving your enemies, and laying down your life. We love and follow because he first loved and called us.
Jesus captures our hearts. It feels more like being rescued and called by a mighty loving king, than being swept off our feet like Cinderella at the ball.