Facts, Faith & Feelings
Almost every time have a conversation with a friend living back in the states, I have a hard time knowing where to start when the first question I’m asked is “How are you?” There are so many words, emotions, and thoughts that come to mind. I started our last blog by saying, “If we were asked to summarize in just a few minutes what the first 8 months of life overseas has looked like, it would be quite difficult to offer a coherent, descriptive, and vulnerable answer because so much has changed and we are constantly learning about ourselves, the world, and, most importantly, our Triune God.” It is hard to even fathom that we are now at 10 months. This means that we have gone close to a year without seeing some of our closest friends and loved ones, people who have walked through the good times and the hard times of our first 26 years of life. We have now spent part of our 27th and 28th years of life in a vastly different situation compared to all previous experiences. Our jobs have changed. Our church has changed. Our community has changed. Everything has changed. Or at least it often feels that way.
One thing that has not changed is our God. We have been forced in many ways to grow more reliant upon Him. I recently listened to a sermon from Summit Church in Raleigh/Durham, NC. The preacher used an illustration to highlight the importance of facts, faith, and feelings. He said to imagine that each of these three represent a person on a balance beam. He said that the order of the persons and which other person they look at is vital. He said that facts must come first. Then, faith follows behind, looking at facts. Finally, feelings are being directed by looking at faith. If faith is turned around looking at feelings, then problems can ensue. In Christianity, we base our faith on facts that fill the Old and New Testament, centering on the life, crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). When our faith is based on these facts, our feelings and emotions will follow. But to be honest, I have struggled with my feelings and emotions recently. I shared this with our Kenyan co-workers recently because I wanted to be honest and open about the struggles Christians can go through.
I feel that I base a lot of my Christianity on what I know. In order to feel good about my walk with Jesus, I need to know a lot and be learning more. I became a believer in January 2011. I have been walking with Jesus for 7 and a half years now, which seems crazy to me. I would have said I was a Christian before that time, but I was not born again (John 3:3) and my heart was not regenerated by the gospel of Jesus. In college, I experienced a lot of growth in knowledge (I rarely read the Bible previously) and with God giving victory over clear, outward sin. But now I feel that I have come to this crossroads where I do not experience as much growth day-by-day and week-by-week. I finished my Master of Divinity a little less than a year ago. That degree, along with opportunities to lead college students, offered me 3 years to lead and take classes in theology and the Bible, all based around learning and growing. The crossroads I have come to has essentially shown me that I have almost less answers and more questions than when I started seminary 4 years ago. There are so many questions out there that I cannot answer perfectly. And while my questions, feelings, and circumstances have changed, the one thing I know that has not changed is our eternal and infinite God.
I must continually preach the truth of the gospel to myself. I do not earn God’s love by behavior modification or the attainment of more knowledge. I am not more or less loved by God based on my emotions. I am loved by our holy God who sent His own Son to redeem me and atone for my sin. I only know these facts because the work of the Holy Spirit has made them known to me through God’s Word. I want to conclude with Philippians 2:5-11. My faith is encouraged because of these facts and truths.
I will do my best to continue to blog through the ups and downs of my journey with Jesus. If there is anything you want to discuss related to these ideas or other topics, I would love to find time to talk. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.