By Paul Proctor
Used with permission.
This may come as a shock to most Christians, but if you do a search of the less contemporary translations of Scripture, the word “feelings” is virtually nonexistent. Where it does appear, it is cited as more of a superficial, even negative attribute than a positive; and yet, as we watch and listen to many from today’s churches, be they leaders or laymen, not only do we see a clear fixation on feelings, both physical and emotional, we notice that those feelings have by and large become a replacement for faith.
In fact, if you substitute the word “feelings” wherever you see the word “faith” in those older Bible versions, it will become clear to you what motivates and guides the average “Christian” today – point being: most of us are not following the Living Word of God by faith, we’re simply following our feelings and calling it “faith.”
This doesn’t require a Bible.
When one considers the sobering words of the prophet Jeremiah, who said: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” it should cause us to take a discerning look at what moves us. If our worship and service to Jesus Christ is measured by mood, then may I suggest our “Christianity” is more theatrical than theological?
Could it be those laughing and crying masks taken from Greek comedies and tragedies that once hung in old movie theaters now belong on the walls of today’s churches? Honestly, is that not what many of us come to church for these days – to hopefully experience a good laugh or cry with friends, aided by mood-altering music, motivational speakers, movie clips, drama and sugary snacks? Is this not what many modern day preachers, teachers, pastors and worship leaders attempt to facilitate among their congregants and class members through emotional presentations and elaborate productions… strong feelings that generate laughter, tears and applause?
And, if you haven’t noticed, leading the charge are people who are very “passionate.”
You see, “passion” is a buzzword that is commonly used among contemporary Christians to give assorted “ministries,” however abstract and bizarre, a perceived legitimacy. If a Christian is “passionate” about something, it is automatically assumed and accepted by the brethren to be God-ordained, in spite of what the Bible teaches.
As flesh, we are naturally drawn to whomever or whatever gratifies us; but that does not mean all people, places and things that make us feel good are good for us. Feelings are easily manipulated, especially in group settings where consensus is king; and those feelings can become obstacles in our obedience to Christ when we make them our primary motivation and navigation through life.
We know that drugs, alcohol, food, sex, entertainment, recreation and career can all be addictive and destructive when misused and abused. Add wealth, fame, power and influence to the mix, where pride becomes an accelerant, and you have an explosive combination. What most of us, even Christians, don’t realize though is that at the heart of it all is the subtle setting-aside of God’s Word in order to feel good.
Some of us do it for results, and others, for relationships.
Eve was deceived by the serpent’s seductive words and took of the forbidden fruit to get results and thus feel good about herself. Adam accommodated her because of their relationship in order to sustain the connection and good feelings between them. She chose results and he chose relationship – both chose to feel good at God’s expense; and it backfired.
This is the 21st century church.
Mind you, the objective here is not to feel bad, but to hear, obey and proclaim the Word of God regardless of how it makes anyone feel. When we ignore His Word to spare our own feelings, we resist the Holy Spirit. And, when we withhold the Word from others to spare their feelings, we stifle our witness and demonstrate to one and all that we are more interested in gratifying goats, seducing sheep and running rampant with the herd, than submitting to the Shepherd.
This is why the church is in such decline – because we are going out of our way and sparing no expense to accommodate people and their passions instead of God and His Word.
Do we really expect the Lord to bless and multiply that?
“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” – 2nd Timothy 4:1-4
Used with permission.