Thursday, February 18, 2010

Disenchantment, Part 2

Again, let me add my disclaimer here: I am not directing this post at any one church or person or population segment. It is merely my opinion, which I am fully entitled to. I in know way expect everyone to agree with me. I don’t expect ANYONE to agree with me. This is just what God has laid on my heart through His word and the path my life has taken. If it steps on your toes, then maybe it’s time you take a good hard look at the direction of your church and the condition of it’s heart. And from some of you I can hear a resounding “AMEN” because your church is doing things right. Take it or leave it.

Over the course of my life I have found myself sitting on the other side of a counselor's desk, pastor's office, or paying for the listening ear of some other professional. One of the very best things anyone ever told me was this: Faith is a FACT, not a feeling. Scott was counseling me at a time when I was doing a lot of working for the church, my husband was doing a lot of working in the church, I was a counselor to others, and from the outside I looked like I had it all together, yet inside I was a mess. I was tired and I just didn't "feel" God's presence in my life. Everything was going wrong. Scott drove home this piece of wisdom: Faith is a FACT, not a feeling. This has become my mantra of sorts and whenever (which is often) I find myself not "feeling it", I fall back on those words. Thanks Scott for your dedication to the Truth in Grace!

Okay, so you know my mantra: FAITH IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING.

Why is it in church services these days we are trying so hard to evoke "feelings"? We try to create this environment where people can "feel" and "encounter" while they're there, yet when they leave and this "environment" is gone, they go about their lives without any real connection to the Living God?

THIS HAS HAPPENED IN MY OWN HOUSE.

One of my children went on a youth retreat where lots of the kids experienced "feelings" of the Holy Spirit being upon them. This in and of itself was powerful to witness and was definitely a remarkable thing. It was a "mountaintop experience".

But, during the weeks that followed my child slumped into depression and anxiety. This child was locked up in their room, pouring over scripture (which was NOT a bad thing), praying, and crying out to God because they wanted that "feeling" back. It was an extreme let-down that God was not manifesting Himself in the same way as on the mountain. My child thought there was something wrong with themself, that they were inadequate, not good enough, etc. I held my child and rocked and prayed for my child while they sat sobbing in a heap on the floor thinking that they didn't know the secret to intimacy with their Creator.

FAITH IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING.

I got to pray with and tell my child that his/her faith was not dependent upon how they felt, but that their faith was real, and that God was real, and that He desired a relationship with them whether they could feel it or not.

Haven't we all been here? I have had many a day, especially lately, that I could not "feel" God's presence, but my faith lies in the fact that He is always there, always loving, always merciful, always extending His hand, whether I feel it or not.

FAITH IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING

There are four hundred years between the old and new testaments in the Bible where God was silent. Does that mean that He wasn't there? NO! God is always there, whether we're in a car, scrubbing toilets, doing laundry, punching a time clock, or in a church.

I'm disenchanted with the whole "fabricating a feeling" thing. It's hurt me in my past, and now it's hurt my family. I've seen it hurt others. If there is one thing that I want to impart on my children, it is my mantra: FAITH IS A FACT, NOT A FEELING. It is my desire for the "church" in general to make this part of theirs, instead of focusing on whether people "feel" welcomed, or "feel" comfortable, or "feel" entertained. Sure, we want people to leave "feeling" loved, by us and our Creator, but they also need to be sure that God is God no matter how they feel.

Where is the balance? No really, I'm asking. I'm struggling with this one. John 13:35 says “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” But what does that look like? Does it make us strive to make people "feel" a certain way? Or should we just be out there, loving, serving, and spreading Hope? Just asking.....

4 comments:

InYou Ministries w/Scott Wolfe said...

My latest recognition of faith is that: "Faith keeps expanding and expanding until it includes ALL THINGS." Do I believe that in the face of my circumstance? Feelings cannot dictate or affirm faith. It's quite the opposite: "Faith IS the assurance of things hoped for."

InYou Ministries w/Scott Wolfe said...

Also, they say if you say the wrong thing long enough it seems right. It's sad when we realize the truth and it feels "disenchanting." Keep moving forward in faith! It's the lightest and easiest way to really live!

Veeno said...

I miss you Scott.

Love,

Kirsten's Husband. :)

Cindy H said...

Although you and I often always see eye to eye on how things are done, I have to say I agree 100% with you on this one. Your description of church creating feelings is where I have struggled with seeker friendly churches. We visited a seeker friendly church last month and left not only feeling like we totally missed church, we weren't sure we had experienced God at all. But, if I had been looking for someone to make me feel good I could have gotten it there. (I am sure there are seeker friendly churches who have found the balance between drawing people in and true discipleship, but I have not experienced it yet) I do not trust my feelings enought to stake my eternal life on them (I don't trust them enought to stake tomorrow on them). Faith is definitely not a feeling - otherwise I would lose it on a regular basis!