Thursday, March 8, 2007

Feeling Good

Christianity is not about feelings …. it is about words…. The Word … who speaks Words of life.
But sometimes we forget !

We are created an emotional people and emotions are good and appropriate but when elevated above reason we become what we are today … a ‘feel good’ society. Try typing ‘feel good society’ into Google and you will come up with almost 500,000,000 hits.
When we over emphasize feeling good, then we become unrealistic and we no longer chart our life’s path according to our destination accepting the fact that the journey will not always be easy. Instead, we avoid any pitfalls along the way - willing to take long detours to avoid anything that will leave us other than not ‘feeling good’. A serious side-effect of living by feelings that have been elevated to a 'ruling' status, is that they are never satisfied but continually demanding that we seek the next 'feel good' experience.

I came across an article yesterday written by Karen De Coster .
She made a point that had never occurred to me.
She said that we are so into ‘feeling good’ that our emotions become our motivation for what we do rather than reason. I have always thought that the mountain of flowers, bears, cards, left to commemorate someone who tragically lost their life is a touching tribute , but she has another view. She says, ”These are the mementos left behind to impart an emotional nod toward tragedy; a sort of self-therapy for folks who have a need for feel-goodism.”
She goes on to say that substance is lacking in this kind of emotional display , nothing of lasting value is given except that the participant feels good. I’m not sure I entirely agree with her. Expressing sympathy one to another IS valuable but I think she has a point in the fact that we place too much emphasis on feelings , letting them dictate our actions.

It is not a new mind–set , of course. Human nature does not change, it just adjusts to what is considered the ‘norm’ in any age.
Feel-goodism was there in the time of Jesus.
When He began His public ministry , it was not long before Jesus was attracting attention… not because of what He said, but because of the things He did. People saw the miracles; the turning of water into wine , the healings, the feeding of the five thousand and they wanted to be on the inside of whatever this man had to offer. Had Jesus lived today the paparazzi would have been clamoring over each other trying to get the best shot , the crowds would have caused unbelievable traffic jams, and the evening news would have been focused on reporting His activities of the day. The parallel was true in Jesus time too - the streets , the places of community meeting were abuzz with the latest exciting news about this new prophet.
He attracted attention because He was different. Instead of the ‘repent or destruction will come’ prophets the people were used to, here was a prophet that made them feel good ! Someone who fed and healed them… who turned water into wine!! Who wouldn’t follow Him?

But then the day came when Jesus’ words offended His followers. He accused them of following him because of His miracles that made them feel good and not because they recognized that He was the Messiah. (John 6:28) He went on to imply that following Him entailed sacrifice and commitment and suffering. No longer a ‘feel-good’ message.
Stunned and disillusioned, many turned away from following Him.
Watching the ‘feel-good’ crowd turn their backs on Him, ]Jesus looked at his twelve disciples and asked a poignant question…. “Are you going to leave me too?” (John 6:67)
And Peter gives an answer that is inspired by more than a ‘feel good’ attitude !! “To whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Peter had moved from a ‘feel-good’ philosophy to being aware of something infinitely more important.

While we all know that our faith is based on solid truth rather than how we feel, I think sometimes we don’t realize how much we are tainted by the mind-set around us. We are like the proverbial frog in hot water - we slip into the stream of thought or attitude that permeates the world around us and don’t realize how far down stream it has taken us. Then when we have a down day or a difficult time in our life or something doesn’t go our way or we ‘feel’ that God is far away, we become discouraged and we 'feel' like we want to give up.

We all love to feel ‘high’ in God, we enjoy those experiences that leave us breathless and excited about the things of God - and answer to prayer, a miracle, an insight, a time of worship, those times when every thing seems just right in our world and we find it so easy to explode with thanksgiving and praise. But we cannot live on those spiritual highs all the time -not in this life- as Peter found out on the Mt. of Transfiguration He felt the rush of the experience and wanted to camp there….but his request was denied and the experience faded and Peter had to climb back down into the valleys. And we are no different- there are days and times in our life where we don’t ‘feel’ spiritual, we don’t ‘feel’ that we are strong in the Lord, we don’t ‘feel’ like doing the things we know we should, we don’t ‘feel’ like we are making a difference in the world around us.

At times like this we need to make Peter’s words our words… “To Whom should we go ? You are the ONLY one who has the Eternal Words of life.”
God is the same yesterday , today and forever !! It is the Word of God that keeps us on a steady course, our knowing that we stand on the Rock that will never be moved !! He is our answer, no matter what our need! We need to persevere on our journey of life, sometimes ignoring our feelings and reminding ourselves of Who we are…children of God . It is what we BELIEVE that matters - Our God is an awesome God who has promised never to leave us or forsake us -no matter how we 'feel'!

1 comment:

Demara said...

I agree that people often determine what they will do on their feelings and not on the logical thing to do and this has frusterated me many times!

I even have told my husband, don't bother worrying about getting me a coffin when I's just a box and my body is just a vessel...USE my body when it no longer has a soul for those people who need the organs...forget spending money on fancy funeral stuff. Just praise the fact that my soul is in the right place!