Let’s be honest, there are times when it is really easy to follow Jesus, and then there are times when it is really difficult.
For example, when I am in a worship service and the song is powerful and moving to me then it’s easy to follow Jesus.
When I am sitting on the beach watching the sun rise, listening to the waves and looking at the ocean contemplating the peace and beauty of God, it’s easy to follow Jesus.
When I am sitting on my patio with a cup of coffee in my hands reading my Bible with my new Hillsong record on...it's easy to follow Jesus.
Let someone be driving in the fast lane when they should be in the slow lane…
Talk behind my back and then forgive you for it...
Guy in front of me with 12 items in the 10 items or less lane....Oh, hail to the no.
These are meant to be funny...and to poke fun at how life is challenging in small ways as a Christian. But what about the harder times in life when "I'm not feeling it" :
When I'm reading Scriptures and when they are supposed to be the life-giving Words of God they just feel like words on a page to me...
When I'm praying to God who is my creator and Father but it just seems like I'm talking to myself...
When I'm worshipping in church and others around me are enjoying God and I just seem to be singing a song and I begin to wonder if this is all real...
There are times when it's hard to follow God and here's the simple reason: I am not feeling it. I don't feel like I love God. I don't feel like worshipping. I don't feel like reading my Bible. I don't feel like going to church. I don't feel like praying. Again, I am simply not feeling it.
And here's the difficult part:
Feelings come across so genuine. Feelings are usually so authentic. Feelings are so strong and they get me so emotional. They are so vivid. They seem so tangible. They seem to validate who I am and what I am doing. Which makes them easy to trust.
But they are also misleading.
Their are days and seasons when you feel like you love your spouse and then there are days when you don't feel it. Because life happens: You have to clean the house; you have to go to work; you have to change a diaper; you have to pay bills; you have to get up early or you are running late; you are short-tempered; you haven't seen each other in a few days...and the grind wears on you. Ask me if I love my wife like I did on our wedding day when we are in the middle of a fight, the answer would be "not feeling it." But ask me if she is the love of my life and I would say yes before you can finish the question. Our marital love is a spiritual decision that started on my wedding day when she said yes. I chose Heidi when I felt like it and I choose her during the times when I don't...but I still choose her and always will. I don't let my feelings dictate my marriage but I let my covenantal choice I made 19 years ago remind me that she's the one and all I need. I can't fall out of love with her because I never stumbled into it but I chose her to be my love as she chose me. My emotions don't disqualify my marriage when it's tough but my emotions affirm my marriage when we are close. The point: I don't always "feel" like I love my wife but I have chosen to commit myself to her even when my feelings don't match up. My feelings where telling me that I didn't love her because I didn't "feel it" but the reality is our marriage is for life and I love Heidi more than anything in this world.
There are days I don't feel like I love God. But I am in a love relationship with God that isn't based on how I feel for the day but based upon the faith that God gave me to love Him and live for him 24 years ago. So i trust my covenant more than I trust my feelings or my emotions.
But does that mean I shouldn't feel emotion or be emotional?
God is emotional and has feelings.
If we are made in God's image, then we also are emotional and are supposed to have feelings. Here's how God feels about spiritual things:
God feels anger: Psalm 7:11; Romans 1:18
God feels laughter: Psalm 37:13; Psalms 2:4
God feels Compassion: Psalm 135:14
God feels grief: Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40
God feels love: 1 John 4:8; John 3:16
God feels hate: Psalm 5:5; Psalm 11:5
God feels joy: Zephaniah 3:17; isaiah 62:5
And the biggest point of it all: God came into our world to know every temptation and every feeling and emotion we can experience but the difference is that as a human being... He didn't sin (Hebrews 4:15) while feeling everything we felt. That's what makes God so trustworthy and understanding about your emotions and your feelings about a situation: He knows what you're going through emotionally because He is emotional, He made you emotional and He knows what emotions you're feeling right now.
We can live from faith to faith (Romans 1:17), strength to strength (Psalm 84:7), grace to grace (John 1:16)...but not from feeling to feeling.
If you live from feeling to feeling you are in danger of "emotional living." Emotional living is the opposite of a spiritual life in Jesus or "spiritual living." So how do you know you are emotional living?
Here are some dangers of "Emotional Living":
Danger #1: I don't feel God so God's not with me or cares about me. Emotional living says if you don't feel God then God is either mad at you, upset at you or doesn't want you. Spiritual living understands nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (Romans 8).
Danger #2: I'm feeling it so I better jump in and just do it. Emotional living leads you in the wrong direction because what if what you are feeling isn't true...now you're heading in the wrong direction. Spiritual living puts a reliability on God's wisdom and counsel and you choose not to make abrupt hasty decisions but calculated wise decisions with the right counsel.
Danger #3: I feel it's right so it must be true. Emotional living doesn't tell the truth. Emotional living wants your emotions to speak first and then let truth back-up what you're feeling. Spiritual living relies on Scripture to confirm and affirm the truth of a situation.
Danger #4: I feel it strongly so this must be my reality. Emotional living encourages that the only tangible and reliable substance to your faith is your tears, your joy, etc. Spiritual living understands that what you feel right now is now what is actual.
Danger #5: I feel like I am the only one that understands what I am going through because no one feels it like I do. Emotional living isolates your feelings to be unique to you and that no one in your community could possibly understand. Spiritual living relies on your community for support and prayer to help you navigate the decision or the season.
Danger #6: I don't feel like praying or reading my Bible so God must not be real. Emotional living makes your spiritual life dependent on having a feeling to back up every spiritually good desire. Spiritual living understands that faith is critical for moments when you don't feel like it and that faith sustains you till the next time you do.
Spiritual living isn't void of feelings. Spiritual living relies on feelings to affirm and confirm what God is doing and refuses to make feelings the primary source of God's will for your life. The primary source of God's will for your life is and always will be obedience.
Jesus made that absolutely clear when He said if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:15-31).
Part 2 is here....
But this is the problem for Christians, our obedience sometimes outpaces our feelings. Their are times our feelings are in perfect step with out obedience. But there are also times when our "yes" to God happens and our feelings haven't caught up to our yes yet.