How does one fall in love with God? What if you don’t feel any emotional bond to Him? Does that mean you aren’t in love with Him or you aren’t a Christian?
Do you remember the day you received salvation? I don’t remember the date but I remember the experience like it was yesterday. I remember hearing the pastor make the altar call, I remember raising my hand nervously along with a handful of others, walking out, and repeating the sinner’s prayer. Being a timid young lad I hated being in the centre of attention even if I was only a part of it. I genuinely believed God existed and I meant every word I said but I was just happy it was over and done with and that I had chocolate to look forward to on the way home.
Despite praying the sinner’s prayer I didn’t experience the radical transformation the disciples did. I wasn’t really interested in reading the Bible and when I did it felt more like a chore because I simply could not understand the thing. I didn’t have any emotional bond to God because, at the time, I was interested in other things like video games, movies, and music. I was young and constantly searching for anything to entertain myself. Praying and reading the Bible didn’t exactly fit those criteria. To those outside, I probably didn’t look like much of a Christian, in fact, I probably appeared to be like any other twelve to thirteen year old who was in the process of discovering himself.
As I grew older, however, things started to change. I started to see who God was, how good He could be, and how much He truly loved me despite my shortcomings. As I studied and read the Bible I started to understand what was being said and I soon started to feel a sense of warmth and adoration for Jesus. I understood His death and what He came to accomplish and I started to see His fingerprints everywhere in my life and in the lives of those around me.
Following that my intellect started to grow and as I was exposed to more and more opposing viewpoints I started to question. I questioned everything, from the beliefs I held, the music I listened to, and eventually to the existence of God Himself. I watched atheist videos and debates on youtube and articles containing arguments upon arguments for the falsity of Christianity. If I told you I was still in love with God during that time, that I felt some sort of emotional warmth or affection for Him, I would have been lying through my teeth. My interest in God Himself had fallen back to the time when I was a kid and I was interested in other things. In this case, I was interested in finding out what was true. I was more than prepared to abandon a belief I once had if it was abundantly clear that it wasn’t true. So I started to weigh the evidence and arguments from both sides and I consumed arguments from atheists and Christian apologists.
After about a year of research, I started to look deeper. I sought after more scholarly works that taught on subjects that would have flown over my head a few years back. As I started to piece the puzzle together I started to rediscover the character of God. I realized how much He truly cared about our intellectual pursuits and security and that He didn’t want “blind faith” in Him but faith built on the certainty of evidence. I saw how incredibly conclusive the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ was, from the reliability of the eyewitness accounts in the Gospels and Acts, the historical evidence of the disciples’ post-mortem appearances and the empty tomb, and finally to the social opposition that would have snuffed the religion out in a matter of days had it been a hoax or hallucination. At this time in my life, I have never been more in love with the Lord as I am now. Of course, that doesn’t mean I always feel emotionally fond of Him. Sometimes I feel frustrated or uncertain of what He is doing and sometimes I even find that I’m just not all that enthusiastic about theology and such. In fact, sometimes I find it downright boring.
I say all this because our Christian culture is not in a good way and it hasn’t been for years now. Everything is so emotion-focused that we start to base the very legitimacy of our relationship with Christ on our emotions instead of our faith. You don’t shed tears as you listen to that new Hillsong tune? You can’t really love God. You don’t feel emotionally moved by the Sunday sermon? Seriously, you call yourself a Christian?
The truth is emotions are fragile, disloyal things that can be determined even by the time of day or what someone posts online. I think we have this belief that being in love with God means we should tear up at any worship song or at the very mention of Jesus, but we simply do not function that way. We’re human and our desires and emotions are as weightless as a feather in the wind. What counts is loyalty and commitment. Maybe you aren’t feeling an emotional attachment to God but you want to find out how because you want to give God more than you feel you are currently giving Him. That is the love God wants from you. He wants a heart that is willing to serve Him and desires to do what is right.
You can have an emotional connection but not have the more important aspects of a relationship like respect or loyalty. Where the modern Christian culture is at fault is that it’s trying to appeal to the heart without the head. The two go hand in hand and develop over time. If I just had the head I may know God is real but I probably won’t have a passion to serve and live my life for Him. If I just had the heart I might feel things for God but my relationship wouldn’t be founded upon anything real. It would be like building a house on the sand where I could theoretically mould Jesus into any version I saw fit.
Nearly all of us know that if you spend enough time with someone their personality will soon rub off on you. Our relationship with God works the same way. We don’t need to try to grow an emotional attachment to Him because the more time we spend with Him the more He rubs off on us and the more He reveals to us just how good He is. Emotions will grow naturally over time and at one point we do come to feel that warm affection for Him. But we develop that, not in our own power or will, but because Christ loved us first. All He wants from us is our faith and if we know in our minds that He is who He says He is we’ll also come to know it in our hearts. It’s a journey and a long one at that but Jesus loves each and every step you choose to take towards Him.