I was listening in church today at the morning service and if there is something that gets my attention and I’m watchful for, it’s our modern notion today of feeling led and hearing the voice of God and other such things. I was even involved in a discussion this morning in Sunday School on that topic where people said “I felt a peace” and “It worked out” and my reply was, “Where does Scripture show that’s how God’s will was found?” No one could answer that.
So I’m sitting there listening and we have the closing invitation. We got the usual, “If you feel God is tugging on your heart, come on down.” Okay. It’s a tired saying and it’s not the one I’d use, but I heard it anyway. Then I heard the next part, “If you don’t feel it, don’t come.” Okay. That got my attention.
I talked to my pastor afterwards about my concern about our emphasis on feelings. He told me that it was meant to be said that if you have been convinced of the truth, then you should come down. Very well. I can grant that. Here’s my problem though. I certainly had no understanding that that was what was meant to be conveyed from where I was listening and I doubt anyone else reading this post would have that either.
I think the only reason someone should come down is if they think Christ is the truth and that the testimony of Scripture is accurate in what it says about him. Now if someone says “I just don’t know yet. I’d like to go and read some more on the topic before I decide,” I will reply with “Great!” I have no problem with someone wanting to study the claims of Christ more because I’m convinced if they do it fairly, they will see he is the truth. My evangelism is not Mission Impossible. I don’t have to convert them immediately. I can plant seeds or I can water them. God makes them grow and I leave it to him.
Yet I saw this as a microcosm of what is going on. It seems today that truth in the church is no longer what matters. Nowadays, it’s feeling and personal experience. The individual has trumped the truth. So much of our worship service is about us. In fact, this is how we determine if we had a good worship service. If we feel good when we leave, it was a good one.
Friends. When Paul was in prison before the governor Felix, he preached on subjects that Felix did not like to hear such as righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come. Felix, I’m guessing felt miserable at such times. However, can we say that that activity was glorifying God? Absolutely. Sometimes we need to feel miserable. Paul rejoiced that the Corinthians felt godly sorrow for it led to repentance.
This was more clear to me as I listened to something I had ordered earlier that week when I got home. I had ordered Greg Koukl’s “From Truth To Experience” from STR. (I recommend anyone getting STR’s “Decision Making and the Will of God” along with the earlier mentioned item.) Koukl spoke on how the church has become more focused on experience than truth. Everyone wants to hear personal revelation.
Friends. Our faith though is not about what is happening to us. It is about what God is causing to happen and that can be done largely through us. It is about the truth that God sent his Son to die for our sins and that he physically rose again whereby we could all be atoned for the sins we have committed.
We are spending way too much time, and that includes me, focusing on our experiences instead of focusing on the truth of Christ. When was the last time you were really involved in a discussion on matters of the faith? I have a group of friends that I try to spend time with discussing great ideas. When I go to a Bible Study, while we have some laughs as I think we should, we try to dig into the text.
Friends. I doubt repentance will feel right usually. None of us like to admit we were in the wrong be it intellectually or in our actions. It needs to be done regardless. There is only one reason to believe in Christ and to follow him. It’s not because Christ will heal your marriage or help you with alcoholism or put a smile on your face in the morning. Oh he can do that, but that is not a guarantee in this lifetime. The reason you come is because he is the truth. We have no right to guarantee what Christ himself never did.
My suggestion? Those feelings can fool you easily. Trust the truth instead.