Monday, May 01, 2006
The fatal attraction of emotionalism
Up front, let me say that our emotions are not bad in and of themselves. They are good and right in their proper place. This is confirmed by the fact that Jesus Himself exhibited emotions: sorrow, compassion, righteous anger, etc.. His example makes it clear that we too can channel our emotions in a righteous direction so long as we keep them in check.
Our problem, then, is not the existence of our emotions, but rather our sinful tendency to allow them to rule our lives. Whether our emotions are pleasant or unpleasant, we tend to rely on them to set the course for our day-to-day lives. It doesn't help that the world system does everything in its power to encourage this self-destructive tendency. We are constantly told to "follow your heart", as though how we felt would infallibly tell us whatever was best for us.
Especially when we pursue relationships with other people, we allow our feelings to tell us what to do. For instance, the gal whom I ought to marry is the one towards whom I have the strongest emotional attraction, notwithstanding any rational or practical considerations that may occur to me. If I really, really "love" someone, I'll do whatever it takes to win her hand, never mind that doing so might lead both of us in a very, very bad direction. Given this kind of unreasoning foolish reliance on emotions, I suppose it's no wonder that at least 50% of marriages end in divorce, because sooner or later even the strongest feelings diminish, leaving you and I to ask ourselves, "What in the world was I thinking?" Answer: I wasn't thinking because I was too busy feeling.
It has been my observation that the vast majority of those who get ensnared by the charismatic movement got into it on account of what it did for their emotions. You see, charismaticism--more than any other branch of professed Christianity--promises a fervently emotional experience with God. In many cases, it provides just what it promises, but no wonder: our emotions are easily stirred, thus posing little difficulty for a supposedly anointed leader to stir them up. Although it's self-evident that no Holy Ghost power is required to get our emotions going--a halfway decent movie or novel can do the same trick--the special bait on charismaticism's hook is that it purports that the emotional "high" it provides is direct from the hand of Almighty God. Thus, when charismaticism lets you down, you are left feeling as though God Himself has let you down. No wonder so many ex-charismatics leave the Christian faith altogether!
My friend, our emotions are powerful to be sure. We can't turn them off no matter how hard we try, but yet we must not allow them to rule over us. In the charismatic movement, many of us allowed our emotions to sit in the driver's seat, and can testify that the once-exciting ride led us to near spiritual ruin. Let us make no mistake: our emotions cannot be trusted, and we must learn to rule over them. This is no easy task. In fact, our addiction to our emotions is so strong that we cannot help but be ruled by them unless God sovereignly grants us the grace to order our steps according to Scripture instead of emotions. With His enabling grace, the impossible becomes possible: instead of struggling along on the sinking sand of our ever-changing emotions, we can learn sober-mindedness and self-discipline in the Holy Spirit as He speaks to us through the Scriptures.
If you find yourself caught up in a swirling tide of emotions--whether "positive" or "negative"--I urge you to cry out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and to search the Scriptures, for only in them will you find the way of Truth. You cannot prosper spiritually so long as you allow feelings to rule your life!!! If you find that anything or any person tends to draw you back in to emotionalism, ask the Lord to give you wisdom and to grant you a means of escape.
The sinful tendency of every man and woman is to be ruled by his emotions, and charismaticism serves only to grant the supposed stamp of God's approval onto our wicked tendency towards emotional drunkenness. My friend, I urge you to seek the Lord and ask Him to teach you through the Scriptures how you might practice the virtue of sober-mindedness, for that blessed virtue is the antidote to the emotions that Satan so often uses us to lead us astray from the right way. Although a way of escape from emotionalism can seem impossible--feelings can be overpowering in strength--God is well able to make the impossible possible.