Well, I took a little blogging break for the holidays, but I’m back!
Have you noticed what people say?
One thing I’ve noticed is that Christians don’t usually like their emotions. Spend enough time around a group of Christians, and you’ll hear a lot more negative statements than positive ones about emotions: “You can’t trust emotions.”/ “Emotions lead us astray.”/ ” Our hearts are fallen and deceitful.”/ “Feelings tempt us toward sin.”/ “You cannot do life by your feelings!!!!!”
I actually just returned from Ignite, GCM’s bi-annual national conference. It was a great. I got to connect with some friends from around the country, enjoyed the incredible times of worship, and got to hear some teachers share some beautiful things about God. I felt all kinds of goodness, and several kinds of difficult emotions as well over the course of those few days. Ah… EMOTIONS! I love them!
But over the past couple of days, I did hear a few of these statements that communicate a bit of an anti-emotions bent. Though there were tons of wonderful things shared at the conference, as a counselor and purveyor of theology about emotions, these statements peppered throughout the conference got under my skin!
Don’t get me wrong: There is truth in those statements. Simply following the first impulse of your emotions all day every day would indeed lead to disaster. But this is a vastly incomplete truth. And when we focus on it too much we can do great damage.
“Deceitful above all things.”
Here is how the thinking often goes:
Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure”! This proves that our emotions are not trustworthy! I need to overcome my “irrational” emotions by focusing on the truth; I need to fight in “the battlefield of the mind”. I must renew my mind with the truth (Romans 12:1-2), and take captive every thought to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). By focusing on what is true, I can avoid being led astray by my deceitful emotions, and live a godly life.
Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, this thinking is subtly flawed and can be dangerous.
The premise here is that there are two parts to who we are: First, there is the “heart” (our emotions) which, according to Jeremiah 17:9 is sinful and can’t be trusted. Second, there is the “mind”, which is ruled by logic and allows me to choose between good beliefs and bad beliefs. As long as we purge our minds of untruth, our minds will lead our emotions along the path of godliness.
Ask yourself: Do you agree with that? Do you believe that as long as you renew your mind with the truth, you’ll be ok?
You may be surprised to find that this is NOT what the Bible teaches! Renewing the mind is very important, but there’s a lot more to the story. — And I’ll tell you more about it in my next post. (To be continued…)