Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (NKJV)
I read a book recently and one particular chapter really caught my attention. While my commentary will be my own, the initial questions and contemplation came from reading this chapter, so I wanted to give credit where due. It is pages 57-66 of the book “Sidetracked in the Wilderness” by Michael Wells.
The author brings up the concept of “unbelieving Believers” which are genuine Christians who don’t live like they actually believe what they know to be true in their head. A “test” is presented with some very interesting questions along with some commentary. What the author talks about is very profitable, and I’m not going to rehash his comments here, but it did lead me to really think about my own answers and thoughts in reaction to the list.
Our heart and emotions often don’t believe
what our head says about God.
We have two concepts of God. One is what we believe in our head… the “facts” about God as we know it. Often, these are the facts that we will communicate when asked by others, or when we want to maintain our “spiritual image”. However, in the throes of our emotions and the depths of life’s struggles, we often reveal our true concept of God by our choices, actions and attitudes.
When we are healthy, God is good and takes care of us. When we are sick and not getting better, God isn’t listening and doesn’t really care. When money is not an issue, God is the God of blessing and watches over us… but when the job is lost, the foreclosure is imminent and the bills aren’t paid, God is not paying attention and not taking care of us.
It takes alot of personal courage to sincerely examine what we REALLY FEEL about God, versus what we THINK about God when we are supposed to come up with the “right” answer. It’s not that are feelings are to be trusted, no way. Feelings are terribly unreliable. But when the proverbial muck hits the fan, and the bottom has dropped out of our world, our feelings reveal our genuine concept and belief about God. If there is a disconnect between what our HEAD KNOWS and what our HEART FEELS, we need to get our heart in line.
How? Choice. Feelings follow choice. That is a message I’ve taught for years. Choice is like the engine that powers the train. The engine may turn the “corner of choice” a while before the “caboose of feelings” makes the same turn.
Let’s finish up today with a look at a couple of the questions:
When I Think About Being With God, I Feel…
The “head” will answer that we feel love, care and acceptance, but have you ever FELT that in reality if you were with God you would feel afraid, guilty, nervous or like a stranger. Struggling and defeated Christians routinely answer with those descriptions. I can understand that. If I’m really, genuinely honest, I have to wonder if even now I walked into God’s direct presence, would it be with fear, wondering what level of condemnation awaited me for all the ways I fail Him.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (NKJV)
My head knows there is no condemnation for Believers in God’s presence. Why then does that fact struggle to be real emotionally too? Obviously it has to do some with the amount of sin we tolerate and incubate in our life, but in the end, it also comes down to a simple matter of choice: the choice to inform our emotions of the truth, and make the choice to have them conform. Because we battle the sin-cursed flesh, sometimes this is a choice that must be deliberately made every time our feelings don’t completely line up with the truth we know in our heads.
Eventually, as we transform ever more into the image of Christ, and we learn to live in the blessing of the TRUTH, we train and condition our emotions to line up with God’s Word and what we know in our head to be true.
The One Thing I Would Change About Myself So That I Can Be Sure God Really Loves Me Is….
This is a tough one. If we have any answer except “nothing”, it betrays an emotional disconnect to the truth of God’s Word about us, that we are new creatures in the image of Christ (Col 3:10). God loves us so much He gave His only Son.
Yet, how many Believers struggle constantly with believing that if only they would pray more, serve more, give more, sin less, read the Bible more, memorize more Scripture…. if only we would do these things, then we could be sure (emotions) that God is pleased with us, and really loves us.
Think about it. We aren’t talking about the “God loves you” because He wants to save sinners. We know that, and we emotionally get it too. But what about God REALLY loving us, accepting us, and being pleased with us AS BELIEVERS? How much more do you need to do to really feel like God loves YOU? How much better do you need to be? What needs to change about you before God will really accept you?
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It’s interesting to note that as humans we necessarily develop our initial concept of God based on human examples. This is natural and inevitable. When our feelings reveal a less than true concept of God, you can always trace it back to an authority figure who possessed and displayed this false concept. If you feel like God is going to condemn you (I’m talking to Believers), then look back, and you’ll find a condemning authority figure in your past. If you feel like you need to improve or change a bunch of things before God will truly love you, then no doubt you’ll have people in your past who required the same.
Part of the maturing process of Christianity is exchanging our flawed concepts of God derived from flawed humans, and by an act of will, correcting our concept of God by applying His revealed Truth. We CHOOSE to believe what is true, and when our feelings say otherwise, we recognize this discrepancy and rebuke the incorrect feelings.
An unbelieving Believer can change by choosing to believe, and by appealing to God: “help me in my unbelief”.
Lord God, help us in our unbelief to believe the truth with both our mind, and our emotions. Help us to be believing Believers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?