Throwing out the feelings!
Ever feel separated from where you belong! Ever felt discarded, misplaced, or that you have lost your usefulness? I have often stated that if for some reason we feel separated from God then our feelings are lying to us and we need to call those feelings liars. This prompted a letter from a very confused individual who had suffered much pain in their life. I quote part of it here.
"l don't think our feelings lie. I don't believe they are good or bad. I believe they just are and are responses to what's going on around and within us. ... When I feel defective and unworthy, the feelings aren't lying to me--that's how I feel. I believe feelings are a fact. The truth upon which that fact is based is what I need to change."
Anyone who has bothered to observe the paradoxes of life knows that feelings and facts are strange bedfellows. At times they seem to be friends who cannot exist without each other and, at other times, mortal enemies.
From my own observations, I have decided that feelings are fickle critters that can't seem to decide where to give loyalty. I have seen this play out in every aspect of our culture such as: Covid-19, Gun Laws, Church function, Family relationships, and Religious influence. If you don’t think feelings and facts are perpetually being manipulated by The Press, The Government, and a Godless Culture then… Well that’s just naive! This Culture has simply been responding to to feelings and not the truth of the matter for a long time now.
Now let me give you an example of how this bears out practically. If a huge truck is bearing down on me, the feeling of fear is a direct result of true and imminent danger; but when I detect no true and immediate danger and yet have feelings of fear, what does that say about the truth of the feeling? Or, one can experience the opposite circumstance--a true and present danger without any feeling of fear. Here again, I must ask about the truth of the feeling. Compounding this struggle further, feelings, fickle as they are, become terrible tyrants when they are the rulers of our lives rather than mere providers of information. For this reason, we must somehow rule them in order to establish their role in a healthy way.
It is very evident that the so called “experts” on things from the media, government and even science are telling us one thing and that our physical observations, feelings, and experiences, are telling us something else. This poses a dilemma in christianity because some will tell you that giving more weight to our physical observations, gut feelings, and experiences, is the way to discovering the apparent truth. This is a Godless philosophy that will never allow us to navigate life or know the truth. Why? Because truth becomes reduced and compromised by what is called cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance supposedly occurs when what we are told does not align with what we experience. It basically states that experience based on our feelings is the only way for truth to become more apparent. This philosophy is a diversion from real Truth as we are about to discover.
The whole subject is much larger than this blog can chew so let's narrow the confines to our opening subject.
To what degree can we trust our feelings, experiences, and observations in this culture and how do we navigate them in relationship to God and all things spiritual? Perhaps I should deliver some further definitions before we continue. I believe that feelings are the results of many things, but truth may or may not have anything to do with them. Truth, to me, is Jesus himself as the living Word and the Bible as the written Word. I would imagine that definition to be acceptable to most who read this although we live in a culture that has all but tried to eliminate the truth of scripture. Facts are merely or supposedly accurate bits of information about the world. Feelings are our emotional responses to information, truth and experiences.
With those definitions, let us propose some situations. What if my friends are planning a surprise birthday party for me, and, as I notice what seems to be strange behavior, I become angry and think they are doing something bad. Regardless of my observations, the truth of the matter is different from the reactions of my emotions. Consequently, I must call my feelings liars. (This is a trait that the Woke Generation hasn’t the capacity to understand!)
Suppose I feel that God doesn't love me or that he is getting even with me. The truth is that God is love and that he is forgiving, and ever present with me, thus my feelings do not represent the truth and are lying to me. Does this mean that feelings are not real. No. Feelings, though real, are neutral (neither good or bad) but they are not always accurate. When they do not reflect what we know to be true, i.e., Jesus and the Bible, then we must be brave enough to call our feelings liars and act out of what we know to be the truth rather than our feelings.
God is Compassionate, Merciful, Slow to Anger, Abounding in Love and Faithfulness, Forgiving of Wickedness, Rebellion and Sin. Regardless of how I "feel," I choose to believe those truths about God. The Nature of Jesus was that He was a Servant, He did not Lord It over Others, He Lead by Example, He was Humble, As A Child, As the Younger, As the Least, Last, Used No Force on Us, Was Not Driven by Selfish Ambition, Made Himself of No Reputation, Was Fully Human, Obedient, Unto Death. Consequently, I will demand that my feelings conform to that Truth. If you are wondering about these characteristics of Jesus and how they are supported in scripture, take a look at Philippians 5:2-11.
As for me, I will devote myself to what I know to be true of the nature and personality of Jesus Christ. Who made the proclamation in Matthew that it was the confession “You are the Christ” that He would build His Church on. I will continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers because I choose to believe those truths about the the world we live in and the Body of Christ. He is with you, He is Truth, and He is the only Way!
Now throw your feelings out and trade up for the Real Truth!