Emotions and God

I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You. Job 42:5

The scriptures tell the stories of more than a few who saw the Lord. Each time there were strong emotional responses. People cried out, fell over as dead, declared themselves unclean, and were speechless when they beheld him. We’ve been fed some bad information about emotions not being important, about the preference of facts over feelings. It could really be a paradigm called, “Facts first; feelings immaterial.”

While I agree that feelings aren’t reliable rudders if they run in opposition to the truth of scripture, they are still important. Feelings, when aligned with truth, direct my life just fine. God feels things intensely and I am created in His image. He wants me to experience Him. Love is to be felt. Sin is to be grieved over. Forgiveness is to be exhilarating. Freedom is to be celebrated. Grace is to relax in. Faith is about fact and feeling. Stoicism and Christianity are mutually exclusive.

Tim Keller says that ‘Emotion isn’t just the caboose to our faith. Christianity needs to make emotional sense before it can make rational sense.’ To see Jesus in all of His glory evokes emotion first, belief next.’

A testimony without fire should be suspect. While I understand some people are reserved and find it awkward to be outwardly expressive, I also contend that if any one of us was pulled from a house on fire, there would be visible emotional reactions like relief, gratitude, tears, or all of the above. How can one be monotone about having their life saved! This is one of the reasons I am to live a cross-centered live. It’s a reminder that I’ve been saved, someone died in my place and delivered me from eternal condemnation and alienation from God. I’ve been plucked from the fire and this changes the face of a stoic like me.

If my faith is dry, if I’m out of fuel, what can be done in addition to ‘reviewing and remembering’ my spiritual heroes? I do a self-review by looking back. What has God changed in me that has been most dramatic? About what am I relieved? About what am I most grateful? What has been the darkest area of my life that has seen God’s transforming power? How do I feel about my own sin and His mercy? These answers provide kindling as my emotions engage with the power of God working mightily in me. He is excited about how far I’ve come, He feels intensely about it, and wants to express that to me and through me.

Ever mention the word ‘Jesus’ to another believer and seen their face light up the room? That’s the kind of emotion I’m talking about. While I know there are desert seasons every now and then, the visible engagement of my heart should be what others see and experience.

You make me dance. Thank you. Amen

One thought on “Emotions and God

  1. Totally agree Christine. Unfortunately for many they see their testimony of merely salvation. Since this only happens once it gets tired and old quickly. The spark goes, the fire fizzles. Much like in marriage and other long term relationships.

    Yet God says (and He’s right) that His mercies are new every morning. Why can’t our testimony be like that? They can but it requires we follow Him in obedience. Once we start doing that we find that our relationship with Jesus is an ongoing one. ONe filled with exciting new blessings and trials teaching us how to dance with our Beloved. The cost is high though. In order to have all of Him we must give up all of ‘self’. That is scary to most, if not all, believers. It takes faith and trust, both of which are firmly entrenched in ‘self’ and so must be wrested away so our spirit can be free to follow our God.

    What I can say is that the price we pay in sacrifice is far less than the reward we receive in Jesus. I would gladly go homeless and hungry again if it meant I could have more of Him.

    Thank you for this post.

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