Faith or Feeling

We’re highly emotional creatures. And one of the challenges we face as Christians is living a superficial Christian life based on what we feel.

The Bible does tell us that Jesus had feelings; he wept and got angry. Even social psychology would probably support the fact that being emotionally in touch is good.  For it is through one’s emotional intelligence (EQ) that one finds a way to work with others by being emotionally engaging. Writers, politicians, and  preachers often engage people through their emotions. It’s a way to motivate and also to draw attention to one’s self.

What is the emotional response you experience when you read the following words from the Prophet Isaiah?

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Isaiah 53:3

Pity, perhaps like one would experience being told about the homeless, the derelicts, the downtrodden and those unjustly treated in a society. We’ll even crawl into a cardboard box and stay overnight with them in an effort to emotionally empathize with what it would be like to be one of them.

The Bible tells us that sin is the transgression of the law of God, and because we are born in sin, we are rejected by God. Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher from the 19th century, is still quoted in some Christian circles. He said that “A church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. But the devil tells us we are no saint. Well, if I am not, I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Sink or swim, I go to Him; other hope, I have none.”

The price Christ paid for our sins is the world’s rejection of Him, as the prophet Isaiah foretold. The world had no reason for Him, let alone a capacity to empathize with Him. Jesus came to give us a reason to hope in Him. 

2 Samuel 12 is the story about King David who had an affair with Bathsheba and got her pregnant. This happened while her husband Uriah was away in battle. When he returned, he would know he was not the father of the child. So David had him killed. It’s the old story of a cover-up to save one’s name. But God sent Nathan to David to make him aware of the sin he had committed. Nathan told David a story about a rich man who had many sheep. A poor man had only one.  When a traveler came along to visit the rich man, instead of talking one of his own sheep, he took the one sheep the poor man had. David raged with anger, insisting the rich man must die. Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man.” 2 Samuel 12:7

Charles Colson said that he had all the things–an office next to the president of the United States, a six-figure income, a yacht, limousine and chauffeur. There was still a gnawing, inexplicable hollowness inside. Colson said he “embodied the truth of what someone once wrote: The poor are better off than the rich because they still think money will buy happiness, while the rich know better.”

God’s does not want our exploits or successes.  He wants us that He may restore us. 

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:12

This joy is found in the truth of God’s abiding love for us.

That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:19

Jesus is reconciling us to God, not out of any feelings or thoughts that might qualify us. We are accepted by God through an alien righteousness; it comes from the outside. It’s imputed — the righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian.  

Thus our legal standing with God is not based on who we are or what we feel. When we are young, wit and brightness fill one’s emotions and feelings with an envious aliveness. That does not qualify one any more than when time has passed, age has buried the mind in oblivion and the body into an undependable shell.

Our standing in the eyes of God depends completely on what Christ has done on our behalf. Upon this rests our faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

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