More Like Falling In Love Part 4: Who Does What?

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(On the eve of the release of the first new song from my upcoming record, I thought I’d get this last blog reposted from a series I wrote about last year’s single, “More Like Falling In Love”. Here are the links to parts 1, 2, and 3.)

…it’s like I’m falling
in love, love, love – deeper and deeper
it was love that made me a believer
in more than a name, a faith, a creed
falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me

“Therefore… continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Philippians 2:12

I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog series that I’ve gotten emails and notes – many of them respectful and thoughtful (some less so than others ;- ) – from those who have had concerns about the meaning of some of the lyrics in my song “More Like Falling In Love”. And though I run the risk of seeming defensive, I thought it might be good to let some recent correspondence guide our conversation for this last blog about the subject.

The two latest comments I received were kindly expressed by people whose concerns, interestingly, were polar opposites – which I suppose can be expected if we understand truth is more often than not paradoxical – it’s DNA made up of seemingly contradictory ideas (the greatest is the least, you lay down your life to find it, work out your salvation… it’s God who works in you…, etc.).  The truth is black and white, and sometimes even seems frustratingly gray, or sometimes even orange, for that matter.  (I’m not talking about relativism here, so don’t get nervous.)

On the one hand there is the email from a man who was concerned that I’m downplaying the believer’s role in the saving/sanctifying work of God in our lives.  The line that says, “it’s more like losing my heart than giving my allegiance” is the real stickler for him.  (Okay, maybe I’ll get just a little defensive for a moment and point out that I’m not saying that we don’t give our allegiance, but rather that it’s more like losing our heart to a Person than it is giving allegiance to an ideology of propositional truths.  If the relationship is in place, a passionate allegiance will surely follow.  Blood is thicker than water, right?)  I imagine his concern is that I’m shortchanging the cost of discipleship by encouraging believers to do too little in the “working out of their salvation with fear and trembling…” I mean, c’mon—you can’t just sit there and do nothing, right?

On the other hand was the two page hand written note from the woman who is concerned that I give us too much to do and am shortchanging God’s role by making too big a deal of our role in the work where I write “falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me”. Her read on this lyric is that I’ve put the ball of salvation/sanctification in our court, implying that it was my willful act of falling in love that brought about the change in me, that it’s up to me to somehow manufacture transformation by mustering up enough love and devotion for God when the scripture clearly tells us “… it is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

I guess it just goes to show you can’t please everybody.

But they both make a good point, and I’m grateful that they’re listening—what an honor to have someone engage a song lyric on that level—and a pop song no less!  I suppose the truth is that there is a real tension between these two ideas, and my lyric—like myself—is probably caught somewhere in the middle.  Maybe that I’ve gotten both kinds of emails is a sign that I was on the right track (or perhaps it reveals a failure on my part as the writer to write with clarity…  nah, I prefer the former.) 🙂 (And that will be my last smiley face.)

I will confess that I have passionately believed in the role that I’m responsible to play in God’s work in my life.  But as I’ve gotten older, I also confess that I’ve become just as passionate about the conviction that it’s all grace, all a gift, that even the ability to receive it is a gift, and that my insufficiency can only be met and answered by God’s all sufficiency.  And yet, and yet…

We feel the tension—the great mystery of God’s sovereignty and the holy freedom of free will he bestows upon us: the freedom to honor the gift giver or do terrible, terrible atrocities with the freedom that he sovereignly gives us. It’s enough to make the head spin or the scalp go cold.  I’m with Job: “Surely I spoke of things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3)

But even if I’m afraid of diving into the deep end of this great mystery, I think I can at least dip my toe in the shallow end by reflecting on the idea of how “falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me.”

There is a sense in which the action of falling in love is my own, I suppose.  I remember when I first saw Taya, my wife, and the way she caught my eye and so absolutely captured my attention.  We were both on a mission trip with our youth groups in our senior year of high school.  She was from Bellingham, WA and I was from Mankato, MN.  Our youth groups converged in Chicago as we partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build housing for the poor there.  It was a grand adventure and each night we would gather to share our experiences of the day.  And here was this lovely young woman who spoke with such depth, passion, and authority!  She was lit on fire with her love for the Lord and when she would share, her words were like little sparks that would set flame to anyone who let themselves be touched by them. I sought this girl out.  It was an act of my will to get to know this girl. I found excuses to engage her in conversation and eventually even got her address and phone number (this was before the days of email, youngsters).

I remember a pastor friend of mine talking about how he met his wife, what it was like when he first saw her across the room, and how he then moved towards her to try to make contact.  He was always convinced that it was he who initiated the conversation that led to their relationship, but it wasn’t until years later that he realized that he saw her across the room because she wanted to be seen by him. What humble grace to allow him to think all those years that he was the sole initiator of the relationship!  What generosity to invite him to play such a dignified part in their meeting when she knew what she was doing all along.

I remember talking with another pastor friend of mine once as we wondered about when the moment of salvation actually happens—does it happen after you go to the altar and pray the magic prayer?  Or did it happen before the prayer when you were in your seat and the Holy Spirit first quickened the words of the gospel in your heart and you decided to respond?  Or did it happen earlier that day when something in you prompted you go to church and you obeyed that instinct?  Or did it happen somewhere before the beginning of time at the foundations of the earth?  Such a delightful mystery—it should leave us humbled and grateful to be recipients of such grace.  It should ignite a passion in us to work toward being better disciples of the Author and Finisher of our faith. It should make us want to both give more of our lives and receive more Life, to work out our salvation, trusting that it’s God who is at work.

No matter how it all went down, the creeds—the intellectualization of it—came after the fact. But at the moment of truth when my heart first surrendered to what the Lord had been doing in me all along, it was love—love that I felt and knew for the first time, love that changed me from the inside out, love that changes me still and is leading me home.

 


17 Comments

  1. Jess

    I think this is the best post of the series yet. Thanks for reminding me who does what because sometimes I get a little bit mixed up. 🙂

  2. Katie

    Jason, I love your song, and every time I hear it, it makes me think about what faith is really about – a relationship with a Person. I confess, parts of it upset me at first, and I still can’t get over a particular line: “Cuz all religion ever made of me was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet … It never set me free…”
    “Religion” with all of its boundaries and rules and obligations, is actually freeing in the truest sense of the word. A train is only free to move when it’s on the tracks. We were created for “religion” – in other words, we were made to worship in communion with others.
    But I do connect with the song essentially … I was born into my faith and raised up in it. My parents taught me the truths and doctrines of the faith in the hopes that I would take ownership in them as I grew older. So for me, the intellectual came first. I knew I should love the Lord, and I had that desire, but it wasn’t until my late teens that I really started “falling in love” and connecting my heart to my head. What a journey it has been!

  3. Profile photo of Ron Block

    Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Jason, we work out our salvation (because it’s already in us to “work out”) into our daily lives because it is really God working in us to will and to do according to his good pleasure.

    Paul echoes the same thought in Col 1:29. This my paraphrase based on the key words: “To this end (presenting every man complete in Christ) I also toil with wearisome effort, agonizing as if contending in the Olympics, according to His divine energy which energizes me like dynamite.” So, really, who is doing the toiling?

    What do I do? My first “job” is to receive. After that, my part is to recognize what I have received (everything I need for life and godliness) and step out in faith that it’s there in every situation.

    One thing to realize when dealing with people – we see things through perceptual filters. Part of the process of sanctification is God removing all the theological, psychological, and worldly mind-filters that keep us from actually taking the Word seriously. He wants us to know he says what he means and means what he says, and if he says we are dead to sin and dead to the Law, filled with the fullness of God, that the old has gone and the new has come, that we are new creations, no amount of word-wrangling, even by degreed theologians, can say otherwise.

  4. Leigh Mc

    And, I loved Jason’s analogy of when, and how, and by whose initiative love happens. Perspective can cloud that…and it always remains a little mysterious, even after the post-game analysis!

  5. Nick and Susan

    Jason,

    This is a timely post for me as I bought your Everything Sad is Coming Untrue album yesterday. I remembered a fellow ‘rabbit’ posting the More Like Falling in Love song on facebook a couple of months ago and loving not only the happy melody, but also the truth the song contained.

    It’s strange how timely your post is actually, as back when you posted *that* Halloween post, my mind was incredibly challenged (and messed up!) by the things you and others were saying. But, now I ‘get’ what you were talking about, and I’m staggered at God’s love and Grace, and can say that it really is more liking falling in love. And yet, much like the response you’ve had to your song, I’ve met this past week with much misunderstanding and upset over God’s grace and just how amazing it is to me now, it hasn’t gone down well at all.

    It’s been a little upsetting, hence why I decided to get your album, I thought ‘this chap knows what I’m feeling like!’. Thankful for this song and the others on the album – just what I needed.. I particulary like the new song ‘Remind Me Who I Am’.

    Susan

  6. Nathaniel Miller

    I love that line from Caedmon’s Call’s song “Beautiful Mystery”:

    “The truth is a river where the strong can swim down deep, and the weak and the broken can walk across so easily.”

    That’s what this song and these blogs have been concerning the truth of falling in love with Jesus Christ. The song’s lyrics are simple to understand, but have beautiful depth. Can’t wait for the next album!

  7. Becca

    My dad was an expert on romance, so I’m going to dole out some free advice here, and it is gold. Singles, please remember these at Hutchsmooch.

    1.) He taught me that there was one scent a woman could wear that no man on the planet could resist: WD40.

    2.) He taught me that when I met the man I wanted to marry, I just needed to slip my hand into the crook of his elbow when he was walking. Seals the deal.

    3.) He taught me this proverb: “A man chases a woman until she catches him.”

    I’ve wondered since, if this statement is also true:

    “A woman chases God until He catches her?”

  8. Canaan Bound

    @Becca
    Love the advice. I will be adding these to my list of things to memorize in prep for “Hutchsmooch”.
    Bahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahah!

    On a serious note, I think “A woman chases God until He catches her” is just about right. The perception is that we’re doing the chasing (or choosing), but the reality is that God has been chasing (and choosing) us all along.

  9. Nathanael

    Hey, brother. Great thoughts on a great song. It’s funny that, when I first heard the song, I was struck by the balance you found in this tension of grace. And to hear you clarify it only confirms that our Lord has given you some great insight into this.

    The most mature Christians I know who have great depth of faith and love are the most dependent upon Christ. Parents want their kids to grow up and be more independent. But our Lord leads us through life with one intent, to make us more dependent.

    As a great songwriter once said about the blood of Jesus:
    “And I need it,
    I need it,
    The closer that I grow
    The more I come to know
    How much I need it.”

    I don’t change the way I live so Jesus will love me more.
    Jesus loves me. And this changes the way I live.

    Shalom

  10. Jen

    Becca: Hutchsmooch? Dear Lord, what have I signed up for? =) Thanks for the free advice though. I will use it responsibly. (again: mwahahaha.)

    I love this: “We feel the tension—the great mystery of God’s sovereignty and the holy freedom of free will he bestows upon us: the freedom to honor the gift giver or do terrible, terrible atrocities with the freedom that he sovereignly gives us.”

    I’m glad there’s a tension. We can wrestle and debate and “word-wrangle,” but at the end, it’s good to just sink into a mystery we can’t quantify or tame. That’s something I can believe in. Thanks for remixing this lovely post!

    Also: Happy New Single Release Day! 🙂

  11. Nicki

    Hi Jason, God brought me to your song more like falling in love after I had gone through a trial that lead to having to call 911 over 60 times in an 8 month period well my daughter went through medical distress later determined seizures caused by a prescription. I near the end of the trial found myself broken curled up in a ball on my bed with my face and pillow soaked in tears screaming out to God that “I CAN”T DO THIS ANYMORE!!” before the last word was finished I could feel God drying the tears. My face & pillow became bone dry and a unexceptionable peace came over me and the warmth of God’s love for me. My problems were still there but they were now being held in God’s hands, the answers started coming and God delivered us from that trial and I had this feeling inside me that I couldn’t describe until God brought me your song “More like falling in love” Your song put into words what was deep down in my heart. Thank you! I praise God every moment of my life & I thank him for the trials because I wouldn’t know him like I do now without them.

  12. D.

    Jason, AWESOME music & a very special anointing over you! Keep up the faith & stay close to Jesus. It is just like falling in love, because he is to always be our first love. Your music is a God gift!! Continue in him on your journey for him. Be blessed because you are a blessing! Thank you for giving of yourself for God’s kingdom so that we can share & be greatly blessed. Prayers!

  13. gail

    Love your song ….as with everything in life, “can’t please everybody”…keep writing, singing, and smiling!!!!!

  14. Ian

    Hi Jason,

    I have a question. I just recently bought your album, “Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue” for my sister for her birthday. We are wondering if it is ok with you if I copied it onto my computer, and if it is still ok to have it when we part ways in a few weeks and I go to college and she stays at home. We just want to check with you. Thanks!

  15. Dave

    Jason,

    This past Saturday evening “More Like Falling in Love” was on the radio and my 12 year-old son initiated a discussion with me about its lyrics. Yes, I am pleased that he initiated the discussion! We live in an age where rules and beliefs don’t matter…a promiscuous “love” that has lost its meaning is idolized. Sadly, this worldview is very present in the Church. Jesus Christ wants us to believe in Him (John 3:16, II Peter 3:9). God is a jealous God who commands allegiance to Him alone (Exodus 20), His desire is for our entire being to be transformed and live for Him (Romans 12:1-2).
    I do not believe that Jesus Christ was a pharisee as He shared: John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

    I vividly recall walking alone as a child to the small Church in the U.P. where I was first exposed to the Word of God and became aware of Jesus Christ and His love for me. It is exciting to experience the drawing power of God!

    John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    I’m glad that I found your blog and that you understand and respect the concerns that have been raised. You write well.

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