“Rejoice in the Lord always…”
How do feelings relate to our personal Christian experience? It has been wisely said that facts, faith, and feelings should always be prioritized in that descending order.
Life’s most grounding reality is the fact that Jesus Christ is God’s Son (John 1:14). He is therefore ultimate truth, yet He can still be personally known. He is “…the radiance of His [Father’s] glory, and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things.” (Hebrews 1:2-3) Second, our experience with Him as Christian disciples is rock-solid. He is the core of everything we are and seek to accomplish. Our relationship with Him is securely anchored in God’s unchanging character. This is the fact that our faith rests on!
In contrast to God’s dependable consistency, our human feelings are ever changing. They react to a wide range of life’s unpredictable situations. Our circumstances vacillate daily and sometimes hourly, so our emotions respond to our personal experience. However, like a loving bride, our feelings of adoration toward our Savior are to simply deepen with the passing of time. We are to prepare for eternity with Him.
“Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory,
because the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and His wife has prepared herself.”
Physical feelings are predictably fickle. Fortunately, however, they have nothing to do with the validity of our Christian experience. They simply relate to our temporary stress, changing sleep patterns, personal grief, mental health, peaceful normality, and exciting moments of joy. Even the atmosphere around us and the chemicals produced in our own bodies can make a difference in how we feel.
In contrast to our feelings, faith that is based on the solid fact of God’s truth, produces assurance. His Word is life’s essential – constant! It remains unaltered by history, current events, our new thoughts, or human emotions. Like God Himself, His revealed Truth must be the basis for our faith. The Lord Jesus helped us comprehend this by declaring, “I am…the Truth…” (John 14:6). The Bible affirms that He remains “… the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Nothing else in the sphere of human knowledge possesses such ultimate meaning!
The Scriptures never promise that we will experience a special set of emotions related to our faith. It does, however, teach that God is faithful and that He truly cares about us. He understands all our human needs and our potential, so He came to help us experience an abundant life. For that reason we are warned, “Do not love the world or anything in the world…” (1 John 2:15). We are to reserve our love for God!
Time teaches us that even though our emotions may vary – God’s Love never does! Our feelings can be altered by hardship and much of life’s grief is caused by unconfessed sin. Disobedience quenches the work of the Holy Spirit and we learn to deeply regret our times of spiritual failure.
“Do not quench the Spirit.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:19)
Through simple neglect or personal indifference, we can temporally lose the benefit of our healthy spiritual condition. However, through honest confession and rededication – our spiritual hunger can soon be restored! We can also lose the joy of our personal relationship with God by missing our times of fellowship. This is why periodically evaluating our feelings is spiritually beneficial. However, continually making emotions our focus becomes a “trap.” We are to live by faith in Christ alone and not by faith in our feelings.
God clearly demonstrated His love for us (see Romans 5:8) and now, we are being asked to share His love and heaven’s good news with others. At the end of our lives all that will have actually mattered is knowing Him, loving Him, and having served Him. That is why we are greatly honored to be called to be His witnesses!
“…and you shall be My witnesses…”
Today, as you pray for the opportunity of sharing your faith, remember that your relationship with Jesus Christ is rooted in history’s best-known facts. That solid reality is worth far more than your best and strongest feelings!
By Billie Hanks Jr.