March 1, 2013

♫ Nothing More Than Feelings ♫

I have often repeated the fact that I am not wholly concerned with people’s feelings when it comes to to Bible or passages of Scripture. Come to think of it, feelings in general too.

Please hold off on the hate mail and pelting me with tomatoes until you've read the entire post.
Let me explain fully before I am accused of being harsh, not compassionate or unfeeling…again.

People’s personal feelings must all be filtered through God’s word.
The reason I am not wholly concerned with how people feel is because if I cater all the time to people that feel certain ways I am shaping my theology based on the whimsy of people's feelings. Feelings are man-centered (anthropocentric) not God-centered (theocentric). Because of this, our churches are being steered more by the “feelings” of the congregants and leadership than by the infallible and inerrant Word of God. We often try more to find out what makes people tick and cater to that whimsy than we do just teaching the word of God and the Gospel outright. This is usually what we see in seeker-sensitive churches. If we are biblically literate we already know that the message of the cross is offensive to people. We need to get over the fact that some people just will not be reached by the Word or the offensiveness of the Cross as they are stiff-necked and reject it outright, it has nothing to do with our presentation.

1 Corinthians 1:23 ~ "...but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles"
Therefore, if the feelings do not align with Scripture…then I really don't care about the feelings. What are they to me if they are not in alignment with God’s Word. I’ll tell you what they are…they are of this world or of the flesh. The filtering through the word is the only way I know as an observer what I am dealing with.
Feelings not aligned to God and Scripture are inevitably about the self and are inherently self-centered or selfish by their nature. If not properly filtered through a complete understanding of Scripture they become a detriment to the person that has them and those around that person. This is because the less the feelings are controlled or attached to Scripture...the more they will deviate from God. Those that will not concede this fact become tools for the powers and system of this world. The more we conform to the positive self-image doctrine that has pervaded the evangelical church, the farther afield we drift from God.
When this type of mindset infiltrates a church it is literally a rebellion right within the body. It is the feel-good mentality that the evangelical church has borrowed from Psychiatry. Why is this bad? Because at its base, it denies sin and therefore trivializes God and God’s role in one’s life. People will readily take credit for a job well done but when things are wrong or they are wrong, they will blame-shift to remove the stigma from themselves. This is typical of our fallen nature because none are righteous. We love ourselves and what matters to us-too much and we do not love God enough.
This type of mindset assumes that someone’s feelings and opinions matter. This is a dangerous assumption to make in this fallen world.
Those that overvalue their own feelings or other people’s over Scripture nearly always undervalue God’s feelings and opinions and other people’s opinions and feelings. And what does Scripture tell us to do? What did Jesus say were the most important commandments?
Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
We are turn outward toward God (or inward in the case of the Spirit) and to others and love them over top of every other command. This means trumping what we feel is proper and loving God first and then others. If we turn inward it is only to the Spirit not purely to our feelings as they would not contradict one another if they are in accordance with Scripture. The people in this passage of course also need to be viewed through the test of Scripture also as they are, after all, human and flawed. The thing is…if one turns to God first which is what is being said here…it assumes you would already have a decent grasp of Scripture and God’s precepts already. The mindset is already there to put God first…therefore His word.
You need to always have Gods filter held out in front of you when examining things in this fallen world otherwise our vision and feelings are just as distorted as anything else in the Fall as we are all fallen beings that are incapable of righteousness without Christ. By putting Scripture first we view the world and our feelings through God’s eyes which are not blurred by the feelings of people (Numbers 23:19).
To think too highly of one’s self in terms of opinions and feelings makes oneself the highest authority and excludes others. It makes one’s self an idol and therefore you become a detestable thing before God. I hate to tell you folks this but you cannot base a productive meaningful relationship with others on just your feelings. If you do then the relationship revolves around nothing more than how you feel and frankly, that is just plain selfish. It needs to at least include the Scripture.
In the end, I will state that I do care immensely about what people say and do and how people feel about things, but I care about them after they have been sifted through the perfect measure of Scriptures. I see when people are struggling in their sin when their feelings reflect the same. Everything about them swings wide of the word of God. It is because all people’s feelings (by their nature) are selfish and tainted by the Fall of Humanity into sin. This then makes them suspect and worthy of closer examination before just accepting them at face value.
One must always approach everything in this world with one question or presupposition in mind:
What does Scripture say?
It is then and only then that feelings should be taken seriously.
This then leads to a second principle that must be taken seriously. We do need to discern, whether or not the feelings of people are matching Scripture. Yes people, we need to make a decision or more specifically to discern or distinguish the difference between what is biblical and unbiblical. Be warned, we will be accused of judging others and being legalistic. If we do not do this we end up wasting precious time given to us to preach the Gospel. We cast pearl before swine or throw children’s bread to the dogs. In other words we waste time and energy continuing to allow people’s unbiblical feelings to distract from and detour us from what is important: The Gospel and teaching of God’s word.
So the next time you “feel” something about Scripture or about issues taking place in the Church, please do yourself and everyone else a favor and pre-screen or filter what you feel through the word of God first. With the help of Scripture, filter out the ungodly in your feelings. It is the only way for humans to know for certain what is coming through is pure and of the Spirit of God and not our own polluted being. Test everything against Scripture and in this way people will not need to do it for you. In this way you will greatly aid the Kingdom spreading the Gospel. By Scripture, through Scripture and with Scripture…never against it.

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