Faith! Feeling?

(Prashant Pradhan) #1

I am assured the God of bible is true God . But I don’t have THE FEELING !
Mentally I can reason with myself that God is real but can’t feel it !
Am I made in that way or am I missing something

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(LaTricia) #2

Thank you for bringing this up @Prashant_Pradhan!

Questions: what is the feeling supposed to feel like? And is the feeling supposed to be more reliable than the knowing? If so, what happens when the feeling changes or isn’t present, does the knowing also change or disappear?

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(Stephen Wuest) #3

This is a question, where modern people are at a disadvantage.

Ancient people, such as 1st century Christians, believed that a human being had both a physical and spiritual nature (body, and spirit, as James puts it). And 1st century Christians (including the writers of the New Testament) present the mind, as living on the spiritual (not the physical) side. But as James commands, we must live in both the spirit (the mind) and the body (living out acts of righteousness). James’ point is that spiritual acts of faith (choices) without the proper physical righteous acts (lived out in the body), is a defective form of faith. “Faith” must include both. “Faith, without actions, is dead.”

The New Testament regularly characterizes the physical body (remember, this does not include the mind) as low, and foolish, and amoral. It is, because the “body” does not include the “mind.” This is the reality that underlies a lot of the language in the Bible of the conflict between the spirit/mind, and the body. We often miss this basic truth in the biblical language.

So Paul commands us to become renewed in the spirit of our mind. He never commands us to become renewed in our physical body. (The redemption of our physical body is in the future, after death of this body.) The redemption of our mind, is to start RIGHT NOW. In Ephesians, this is so that we KNOW the will of God, and what righteous actions he has prepared for us to live out.

This is the biblical relationship. We are to know what is right, in our mind, and force our bodies (regardless of how we physically feel), to live out what is right.

The New Testament condemns the modern concept of “follow your (physical) passions” because this would bypass the mind, and all our moral consciousness, altogether.

As a secular, moral example, I think of Tom Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan”: “When was the last time that you felt good about ANYTHING?”

Given the moral/ethical trauma and carnage that we live in, there is not really any reason to think that we should be physically (emotions are very physical) feeling good about anything? I see this as the starting place for Christians.

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(Stephen Wuest) #4

God promised Abraham and Sarah a son. Decades later, their bodies are far past being able to have a child. How do you think that they FELT about this? What was the essence of their faith, that God would still give them a son?

God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son as a burn offering. How do you think he FELT about this?

We need to very carefully separate our physical emotions/feelings, from the biblical definition of faith. We can have faith, while feeling terrible.

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(SeanO) #5

@Prashant_Pradhan I think that each of us our engaged emotionally in different ways because of our life experiences. We need to understand our own emotional history and learn how to lead our emotions to exalt Jesus. King David often preached to himself - “O my soul, why art thou downcast within me? Hope in God!” And C. S. Lewis points out that obedience, more than feelings, ultimately shape who we are becoming. So we obey in the absence of feelings, but we also seek to lead our whole being - mind, body and soul - in worship to God - to move our heart to praise the living God as we worship Him in Spirit and truth.

Here are some other resources you may find helpful. May the Lord Jesus fill you with His Spirit and give you understanding as you seek to understand how your emotions interact with your walk with Christ.

Also like an explanation from Piper - “Put the nose of your heart into the knowledge you are learning…” - haha. Think about the things that make us emotional? Why do they move us? Because we are investing our hearts emotionally in them - we are choosing to move our hearts - to incline our hearts into them. When we invest our heart into a sports team or into a group of friends - then we respond with emotion when that team wins / loses or when something is going on in our friends’ lives. Why? Because our heart is inclined - it is invested. To feel the Scriptures we must likewise incline and invest our heart in God and His truth.

God loves us independent of our feelings.

While it is a blessing to be able to sense God’s love for us in a tangible way in the form of feelings, it is crucial that God’s truth and not our feelings become the foundation of our relationship with God. Feelings are variable and therefore unreliable but God’s word is constant (Matt 24:35). God values our love expressed as a willing obedience to His commands in response to the unchanging love that God has promised to all in Jesus Christ (John 14:15, 1John 4:19, Jer 31:3, Rom 8:39) . C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity writes “Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will. If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment, ‘Thou shall love the Lord thy God.’ He will give us feelings of love if He pleases. We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right (p. 132-133).” Though a feeling is not a reliable gauge or the goal of our faith in God, there are certain habits that could help our prayer life when our feelings do not co-operate.

Helpful practices for a meaningful time of prayer

  • pray daily to be filled with God’s Spirit and for a sense of His love
  • pray for other people around you often while letting go of any hurt feelings (Matt 6:14) - There is a greater sense of nearness and love for God when we pray for others more.
  • pray from the psalms, the Lord’s prayer or other useful liturgical prayers to maintain a godly perspective in prayer.
  • meditate on God’s blessings and exalt God for who He is to aid in focusing on God in prayer.
  • engage with God in a way that touches your heart - singing worship songs, taking a walk out in nature, painting, writing a letter to God each morning or night - whatever it is that touches your heart as an individual - give God some space in that area of your life
  • when you love others pray for God’s Spirit to fill you with a supernatural love from Him for them as often times God’s love fills our hearts most profoundly when serving others
  • understand your emotional history and take time to process it with the guidance of a counselor as needed. As an example, a friend in seminary who was not good with emotions had always struggled to feel God’s presence - it was not because he was not saved, but because of some emotional challenges from his past and it is a lifelong process for him to work through those.
  • consider changing lifestyle choices ex. nutrition, sleep, exercise, a new hobby, engaging in a local community at church etc.

C. S. Lewis’ “Let’s Pretend” Chapter in Mere Christianity

So, one thing you may do is pick up a copy of C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and read the chapter entitled ‘Let’s Pretend’. While his focus is not on feeling a love for God, I think it is relevant. If we have the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives, then if we live out God’s commandments as if we love God I believe that love will develop over time. Remembering of course that love is not simply a feeling but an attitude of the heart.

“Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups—playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them grow up in earnest (p. 188).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him… There is, indeed, one exception. If you do him a good turn, not to please God and obey the law of charity, but to show him what a fine forgiving chap you are, and to put him in your debt, and then sit down to wait for his ‘gratitude’, you will probably be disappointed (p. 131).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

In this chapter, entitled “Let’s Pretend,” Lewis relates the first words of the Lord’s prayer to a common childhood activity in order to illustrate just what the Christian life entails. He begins, though, by referencing stories like Beauty and the Beast, where what begins as a hideous monster ends up becoming a handsome man; or a story where someone had to wear a mask that made him look nicer than he really was—but in the end, when he took off the mask, his face had grown to fit it, and he had become quite handsome. In stories like this, “What had begun as a disguise had become a reality.” That is why we like stories like these: they point to transformation—and deep down, we all yearn for transformation.

"Lewis is saying that where there is a sincere love for God, then obedience will shape our character to enjoy that obedience. The love for God in our hearts will leap towards others when we love them; taking our heart in which His love is encased with it. Where God’s love is truly present it serves as a strong magnet drawing us towards others if we will move towards them enough to feel its pull.

This is the reason for Lewis’ “exception.” It is not the action of “loving as if you loved” that produces genuine affection. It is the presence of God’s love in us and our love for God getting close enough to another person to be activated that produces change."

http://bradhambrick.com/lewisonfakeit/

Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence

This book by brother Lawrence is helpful in learning to practice God’s presence, which is key to engaging our heart’s with a sense of love for God. It is not a magic bullet, but it has some helpful thoughts and suggestions.

Preach to Your Own Heart

If we read the Psalms, we often find that David, even though a man after God’s own heart, knew his own heart was not aligned with God’s truth, so he preached to his own heart. He reminded himself of God’s faithfulness and attributes and love. So I think we see from David’s example in the Psalms that it is normal for us humans to need to preach to our own heart.

Psalms 103:1-2 - Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits

May the Spirit of Christ fill you with a sense of His love and a love for Him. May He grant you wisdom to know how to engage your heart and how to invite His presence into your daily activities.

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Finding Joy In God
(Curran Harms) #6

@LJan this is a very popular belief and worry amongst Christians. Let me be a bit of relief to you. First of all we are called to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Just because one day you wake up and don’t have those cheery feelings inside, but you know that God is real and have accepted him as your savior then nothing changes. Your salvation is not based on your day to day mood.

Remember the devil will attack you, so if you feel that you are not in your walk and are being distracted by daily life, then pray for God to come into your heart and take over. Pray for God to be the important one on your heart that day. Remember everyone has their doubts in the faith. Doubts are good, because whenever I have a doubt of something i hear, i begin to search and explore it. In that time I find God again. Which is why I found myself to RZIM. It was from doubts that led me to apologetics and to here. God is big enough. He can handle your doubts. Give them to him.

Also you cant lose your salvation:
John 6:35 “I am the bread of life”, Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again. But as I told you, you’ve seen Me, and yet you do not believe. Everyone the Father fives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out.”

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(Kathleen) #7

Thanks for the thoughts, @Curran_Harms! @LJan’s questions were more rhetorical for the community to think about. Good to know how you answer them, though. :slight_smile: Do you have any additional thoughts for @Prashant_Pradhan?

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(Prashant Pradhan) #8

Wow ! Thank you so much for opening this up for me ! Even with your personal experience ! @Curran_Harms

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(Prashant Pradhan) #9

I understood it was a rhetorical question . And thank you for asking it rather than giving straight forward answer . Actually the question you asked me really got me thinking . I thought about it this almost several hours last night .
To be honest with you.
This question really is very very deep for me, and thinking and praying for several hours about it , I got no where .

I think I am scared to know the answer , (because i my not like the answer ) this is one of the experience I never had , this experience of confusion !

@LJan. @KMac

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(Prashant Pradhan) #10

@SeanO

Thank you for replying my question with such a good explanation !
You have been replying to me since my 1st question .
I am from Nepal and we don’t have much of these going on and this really makes me fresh and my Faith revived .
Thank you for your hard worked reply

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(Prashant Pradhan) #11

Wow ! I never thought about it this way ! @Stephen_Wuest
Yup specially during Abraham trying to sacrifice Isaac… If he would have followed his FEELING than his conviction… things would be diffrent

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(SeanO) #12

@Prashant_Pradhan Let us spur one another on to love and good works :slight_smile: Praise Jesus!

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(LaTricia) #13

@Prashant_Pradhan, what about your responses to the questions (at least in your thoughts) brought on some level of discomfort or concern?

I’d also like to share something that fits one of the first things I learned when I came to Christ.

I’m at work right now and don’t have access to my books, so I can’t give the exact title of one of the books where this lesson was echoed in. I came to Christ June of 2013, and the my friend who led me to Christ was very firm in teaching me this line up in regards to not only managing my feelings, but also in understanding how faith works. He would say to me that faith follows facts and feelings follows faith. I have maintained that perspective for going on six years now and it has served me well in so many ways, but more importantly it has served me in regards to my loyalty to Christ and the faith of my salvation.

During a very difficult period I was going through emotionally, I wasn’t “feeling” God or my salvation. I felt like so much of what I was doing was in vain to say the least. I wasn’t even experiencing the joy of my salvation and couldn’t “find” it within my being.

Then one day, I decided to just stay at home all day. At some point during that day I pulled out my journal and made a goal to write down 10 things I knew to be true about God. What started out as 10 things, I think ended up being 100 things, and I probably could have kept going! There it was for me to keep and reflect on. But what surprised me the most was that exercise shifted my feelings. It was a complete 180!

I think in this situation what happened for me, because I had essentially been trained to look at the facts first, giving myself the facts about God helped to bolster my faith which in turn helped to revive the joy of my salvation. The other aspect of this was that I genuinely sought to see God as He is and not as my skewed interpretation of Him. I had to rely on His word and what He has revealed of Himself in order to do that.

I hope that the responses to your OP is helping you work through this matter.

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(Prashant Pradhan) #14

@LJan

what is the feeling supposed to feel like?

  • when feeling comes to my mind it really comes with an “emotion” like
    happy, sad , excited ,…

And is the feeling supposed to be more reliable than the knowing ?

  • i think feelings cant always be trusted but i think feeling makes us “alive” !!?

If so, what happens when the feeling changes or isn’t present, does the knowing also change or disappear?

  • knowing doesn’t really disappear , !!
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(LaTricia) #15

@Prashant_Pradhan, I agree that feelings do make us feel “alive” rather than simply existing in a sea of apathy or neutrality. But feelings are fleeting and can change swiftly mostly because our feelings tend to be based on circumstances.

In the anecdotal experience I shared, what ended up happening for me was that because of the knowing I was able to experience joy, peace, calm, and shift out of a deep state of melancholy. Because the facts of God doesn’t change, I can always keep faith in Him. Because I can keep faith in Him, no matter what unpleasant emotions I experience, I can maintain a level of hope in the joy of my salvation which does allow me to tap into at the very least a seed of joy. Essentially this joy and hope isn’t based on circumstances, only the truth of God and who He is.

Also, from my own experience, and I neglected to even consider this prior to just rereading your OP, what I initially felt when I came to Christ and probably for the first 2 years or so was a great many things but not usually the “warm fuzzies”. LOL I was really all over the place emotionally between being convicted in my soul, learning about God, and working on allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and teach me in His ways … if I could say I felt anything it was overwhelmed most of the time. I cried and used my journal a lot. The joy part existed in knowing I had been saved, that was the joy of my salvation. I say all of this to say our journeys are different; the process of sanctification may look different, how we respond to the process, and even how we internalize what we know of God can look different for each of us. Some of us don’t express a great deal of emotion, while others of us have extremely sensitive hearts. There’s no judgment or value placed on being either type of person; one definitely isn’t better than the other.

Can you go wrong if you always act on the truth of what you know of God while allowing your heart to catch up to that knowing? If it is true that God gives us joy and peace, then I believe that is exactly what we will eventually experience within our hearts somewhere along the line. I have no answer as to when it happens or even how it happens, just that a key component (or two) is to constantly seek Him and constantly act on the truth of what we know of Him. Is this an additional help in anyway?

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(Prashant Pradhan) #16

Thank you so much !
Loved it :grin::blush:

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(LaTricia) #17

Yay! I’m glad that’s helpful.:heart: Please continue to let us know how you’re doing on your walk with Christ, I really mean it. I love hearing how people are doing no matter if it’s all good news, a struggle, or a mixture of both.

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