June 13, 2007

Feelings. Nothing more than feelings…. Faith based on feelings isn’t worth any more than the emotion driving it.

Those of us who live lives based upon Feelings are cyclical and fragile creatures. Wandering about in a quagmire of expectation, hope and defeatism. Sometimes overcoming. Sometimes succeeding. Sometimes failing. Often we spend our lives somewhere in the midst of not quite triumph and not quite failure. We manage.

We manage to suck it up and drive ourselves into a frenzy of overcompensating. Earnestly seeking that Thing which once again propels our emotions into a state which supports where we believe we ought to be.

Which is?

Strength! Purpose! Hope! Success! We are to be un-stoppable Christians who overcome against any and all odds. G-d alone could stop us. And even then stopping isn’t of G-d so why would we even consider a caution to halt.

Many of us truly expect we should live there as the culmination of spiritual maturity and focused faith. Well, many of us do. I don’t.

We have all had moments with G-d when He touches our hearts and we are compelled by passion and desire to do all we can to please Him. I believe that does please Him. What I don’t believe is our passion pleases Him more than our obedience when we don’t feel like it.

Saul was admonished by Samuel to remember “G-d honors obedience over sacrifice.”

And the anti-thesis of emotion driven faith is what? Logic driven faith.

A faith which only functions when all the lines are drawn, t’s crossed and those pesky ducks lie quietly in a row. A faith dictating we will not pray a prayer which makes no sense in the face of incomprehensible situations. A faith of numbers, algorithms and quantifiable formulae. A faith denying passion. A faith defeated by situations which are neither understood easily nor tidily compartmentalized.

So, who wins? Because it’s always all about winning and coming out on top, isn’t it?

Many times we allow our faith to be led by our personality. If you are more emotionally driven you will be naturally led to a faith that “feels” right. If you are more choleric you may seek faith that “adds up”.

It is fairly incredible to me how we have, as the Body, segregated ourselves into our little boxes. The “I feel therefore I am” camp at war with the “I think therefore I am” camp. Does it ever occur to us how very much we need each other? I will take my study and you will take your passion and together G-d will use us to set the world on fire.

But instead, we thrive in our own pleasant denominations, our Christian colleges, our Spirit Filled Power Services, our Revivals. Comfortably divided one from another.

Or perhaps we take the road less traveled and decide that fellowship of any kind is suspect. We’ve been down that road before and we aren’t going to allow ourselves to be hurt by the men around us any longer. Or so we say. As we hurt ourselves in isolation. Standing on the outside shouting our observations means very little to those who stand on the inside bearing the weight of spiritual responsibility.

Our faith. Is it defined by what we feel or what we believe? Is our faith quantifiable by easily gathered data? Can we give a defense of our faith without descending into childish name calling?

G-d commands us to fellowship with each other. In fact, in several instances in Scripture the only way one was “allowed” to leave the fellowship of their spiritual community was when they had given themselves to a state of unrepentant sin or divisiveness. The punishment for these choices is being “cast out”. This tells me we are to stay in fellowship, within the structure G-d has set forth through generations, even at enormous personal cost. Until we are released to go. Never before. The call is to endure. Not run away.

Does I mean to say you stay at the church where you have been abused? Not necessarily. It is important for you to have honestly and earnestly sought G-d . If He said “Stay” there should be nothing that could make you leave. If He releases you to go, then go. Although it should never be easy to leave a body of believers.

If you walk away from a congregation, find another. We should always purposefully and actively seek the fellowship of other believers. We need each other. Followers of Christ, redeemed brothers and sisters, we are herd animals. There are no Lone Ranger believers. There are, however, many rebellious, hard hearted and prideful outsiders who find no greater joy than proclaiming the weaknesses of their fellow believers to the world while refusing to shoulder the burden of serving one another in humility, bearing with one another in weakness and believing the best. Allowing Love to cover a multitude of sins.

You know, living like Yeshua. The One who brought salvation. The most Passionate. The Most Faithful. The Most Confident. The Most Competent to offer a sound defense of Faith. The One who gave of Himself willingly even to the point of death so we, those who follow behind, could know His Father.

That’s how we ought to live. With our whole heart. With our whole mind. With our whole strength. With our whole being.

For Him, by Him, through Him and because of Him.