In our experiential and consumer-based culture, we have placed way too much stock in the emotional component of our faith. Think about how you evaluate the quality of your spiritual walk. How much do experience and emotion play into your evaluation?
- “I haven’t felt close to God for a while.”
- “God hasn’t answered my prayers.”
- “God has felt distant lately.”
- “I read my Bible, go to church, and try to pray, but I don’t feel any different.”
- “My spiritual life is dry.”
All of these types of evaluations are based on our efforts to “be close.” It is as if contemporary evangelical spirituality is all about doing our part to find God’s presence and proximity. It is as if He is allusively waiting for us to find the formula that activates His closeness in our lives. What a pile of unnecessary and unbiblical work. In my passion to experience God’s presence, I grew up looking more for an experience instead of himself.
Beyond spiritual exhaustion, this faulty thinking also makes us vulnerable based on our circumstances of life. If God’s presence in our life is based on experience, what happens when the normal storms of life knock us around? If life is hard, then God must not care or even exist.
While our emotions are often a component to experiencing our relationship with God, our immediate emotional condition is not the barometer of our faith. Joy is often a wonderful byproduct of knowing our position in Christ; it is not the way to becoming closer to God.
Just as my salvation had nothing to do with my effort, neither does the guarantee of my spiritual growth. Sound too good to be true?
“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced a so much for nothing?”
“God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”
God boundhimself to us! He is an anchor for our soul! While we might get bashed around by the storm, nothing spiritual has changed because He is the anchor for our soul. Rather than a faith based on my work of trying to “get close” to God, the incredible reality is that He has cemented Himself to us. We can never become closer to Jesus than we already are!So sure, so confident, based on His faithfulness, not ours.
Dave Blundell / Rev. Dave Blundell is the Executive Director of Hungry For Life International. Dave holds an M.A. in Leadership and is the author of Professionally Religious: The Spiritual Poverty of Spiritual Leaders.