Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We Feel about God the Way We Think about God

Our ideas about God are powerful. If we think that God is fickle and changeable, we will not be able to trust Him, and therefore feel thankful towards Him. If we think that He only reluctantly gives us eternal life, it will be hard to love such a God.

The way we were raised and our deep seated feelings powerfully affect the way we think and feel about God. I grew up with deep roots of self-loathing. In order for me to love myself – and also for others to love me – I believed that I had to be very successful at what I did. If instead I failed, I experienced the perfect storm of torment.

Even coming to Christ didn’t change my emotional wiring. If I performed well on a spiritual level, I felt confident that God and the world would find me acceptable. If I failed to live up to my lofty standards, powerful feelings convinced me that I wasn’t lovable. As I was sure that people would now reject me, I was also sure that God would reject me. In fact, my feelings of self-condemnation persuaded me that I was under God’s condemnation.

I delved into Scripture, but as long as I was convinced that I could somehow learn to be spiritual enough for God, it proved to be no more than words to me. God’s reassurances found little resting place in my heart.

I had to first die to my last vestiges of self-confidence. The Apostle Paul explained his spiritual passage this way:

·        We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Cor. 1:8-9)

Paul learned that he couldn’t grow in God-trust until he died to self-trust – our default position. I had to learn the same lesson, and it was a horribly painful lesson. I had to find myself utterly helpless and hopeless – to the point of desperation where I could only cry out, “Lord, help me!”

It was during this time of desperation that Scripture began to come alive for me. One day I read,

·        Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:1)

These words burst upon me like a rainbow after a storm. I now realized that my feelings of self-condemnation did not come from God but from me. I also began to learn more about God – that He didn’t desire the destruction of even the greatest sinners but simply that they would confess their sins, and come to Him (Ezekiel 18:23).

With these new revelations, my thinking began to change, and with my thinking came my feelings. I began to believe that He loved me even though it had become clear to me that I didn’t deserve anything from Him (Eph. 3:16-19; Luke 17:10).

What we think is so critical to everything else in our lives. When I think grateful thoughts towards me wife, I feel grateful. When I think about who Christ is and what He has done for me, I feel close to Him – so close that sometimes I cry out with tears of thanksgiving.

Scripture is an anchor for my soul, balm for my hurts, hope for my doubts, comfort for my fears. Scripture directs my thinking and consequently my feeling. Peter even stated that our knowledge of God is critical for receiving all spiritual blessings:

·        Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:2-3)

I write these things because the church disparages meditation on the truths of Scripture. It erroneously believes that it can bypass Scripture and magically experience God through learning several contemplative techniques never even hinted at in Scripture. It’s like exploring a cave without a light. We might think that we are experiencing the cave. However, we are merely experiencing our own ideas about the cave.

The knowledge of God is a roadmap, without which, we will surely get lost and perhaps wander over a precipice.



No comments:

Post a Comment