Thursday, March 1, 2012

Spiritual Hypochondria

We all know people who have stunted their spiritual growth by putting too much stock in their own feelings. An inward look every now and then to check our motives is a good and profitable exercise. However, when feelings become our compass we find that we are blown about and drifting without an anchor. How we feel about things can be affected by our health, the weather, and others in our lives. Feelings are many times at odds with reality. Now we all need to feel, but feelings should have some basis in truth. For example, feeling married and being married are two different things. One is simply emotion, the other is fact.

When people get the cart before the horse (feeling before fact) they live their life on the roller coaster of emotion. Now, emotion is good. God made us emotional creatures. I'm actually a little worried about the mental health of those who never show any emotion. But God did ask us to trust in facts.

Feelings do not constitute Christianity. God gave us the higher, better and more intelligent concept of "knowing". Read the book of First John. Twenty-two times we find the word "know". First John was written to give us "know so" assurance of salvation. If you have the adoption papers you don't have to rely upon your feelings. We have been adopted by the Father. Now, it's always nice when you feel those emotions of relation, love, acceptance, and belonging. But whether or not the feelings are there, our reliance must be upon fact. Paul used the word 'reckon'. This is an accounting term that means to write it down in the ledger as a fact. Look at Romans 6:11 "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Paul doesn't tell us to wrangle our emotions until we feel close to God. He tells us the facts. The old man is dead, we are alive as a new creature in Jesus. Now once we accept the facts, our feelings and ultimately actions follow suit.

Animals run on feelings and raw instinct, but human beings are supposed to act on faith, fact, intelligence, and principle. Look at Psalms 42:5 "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance." Simply put, we can either spend our time diagnosing our feelings, or we can cut through the stress of trying to "feel right" and trust in the facts as God has presented them. Isaiah said, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Isaiah 26:3

Likely my favourite little poem says:

“Feelings come and feelings go, 
And feelings are deceiving; 
My warrant is the Word of God-- 
Naught else is worth believing. 

Though all my heart should feel condemned 
For want of some sweet token, 
There is One greater than my heart 
Whose Word cannot be broken. 

I'll trust in God's unchanging Word 
Till soul and body sever, 
For, though all things shall pass away, 
His Word shall stand forever.” 

― Martin Luther

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