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How “Desiring God” Helped Me Solve Some Old Conflicts

My journey from the excitement of being a new Believer in 1984 to pastoring caused me to change. One thing that seemed to escape me as I went to seminary and read more and more was the joyful affection, zeal, and passion that I had when I first new Christ.

As I new Christian I had what seemed to be conflicting messages in my head.  The first conflicting message that I was told and believed  was: I should never loose my first love for Christ – that is spoken of in Revelation 2:4, which the apostle John wrote to the church at Ephesus:

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.(Revelation 2:4, ESV)

While on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU), I remember Bill Bright saying that if you prayed anything for him pray for that – that he would not loose his first love.  Oh how I agreed with that, since I grew up in a dead, emotionless church.   I reasoned that if Christianity was really true, it should be the apex of ones happiness and cause of great emotional expression.   I couldn’t understand why so many professing Christians did not have the radical emotional of love for Christ as people did for football in the state of Texas.  This caused me to pursue a more charismatic church than many of the churches I had been exposed to as a child.   The convict I was having concerned what to trust as my ultimate authority – what authority takes first place on the stage of truth – or how could emotions be trusted.

The other  message that conflicted with the first message was:  emotions are not an essential component of faith.  I was introduced to the “train diagram” through Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU).

This diagram was used to explain how faith worked an was part of how one explained how to know if you are filled with the Holy Spirit.    The correct answer of course was  On the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word: Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:22, 23.)!”  Do not depend upon feelings.  The promise of God’s Word, not our feelings, is our authority.  The Christian lives by faith (trust) in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word.  A train, with an engine (fact), a fuel car (faith) and a caboose (feeling).  This train diagram illustrates the relationship between fact (God and His Word), faith (our trust in God and His Word), and feeling (the result of our faith and obedience — John 14:21).  The train will run with or without the caboose.  However, it would be futile to attempt to pull the train by the caboose.  In the same way, we, as Christians, do not depend upon feelings or emotions, but we place our faith (trust) in fact — the trustworthiness of God and the promises of His Word. Feelings are valid but not always trustworthy. God’s Word is.  This caused me to become more cerebral – to see emotion as non essential.   The conflict became more pronounced when I realized that every decision one makes is based on emotion and inclination of ones heart.  

In some instances I was told that emotions were not necessary, but that faith was merely an action of the will (where ever that part of the human anatomy is).  This view was very damaging to my spiritual life.  It is easy to have what I call a “Silo-mentality”, 1-dimensional thinking, where you see things or categories of things as either all right or all wrong.  We live with the law of “Non-contradiction (A ≠ non-A at the same time and in the same sense), but that doesn’t mean that 2 propositions cannot both be true in one sense and one be wrong in another sense.  

In light of multi-dimensional thinking, I finally understood that both seeming contradictory ideas can be right in a certain sense.  So while the “Train Diagram” (above), is useful for understanding that wrong affections or emotions cannot be trusted or be determinate in what is actually always the truth in every circumstance, it wrongly caused me to think that emotions were not part of genuine saving, sanctifying, sustaining, persevering, or glorifying faith.   

I finally understood that  while I rightly trust in many authorities there can be only one ultimate and final authority.  I finally understood that I can believe in the fact – the Bible and God’s word as ultimate while understanding that my emotions are a valid authority and show be pursed based upon truth.   In other words I should appropriately feel affection for the truth that I know to be true.   All my decisions are made by this interaction between truth and affection for the truth.  So saving faith has to have a component of emotion and affection included in it to be genuine.   We should desire God and prusue our happiness in knowing Him based on His Self-revelation.!!!

I relate this experience because Desiring God has helped me rekindle and pursue my joy and passion for Christ as an essential part of my Christian walk and witness.  There is no one who will spread God’s glory in evangelism and mission who does not emotionally rejoice over knowing God himself.

In a new year, Desiring God ministries has a new website and a new introductory video. If you have never understood how to have passion and proper affections for God I highly recomend you listen to this video and use the Biblical resources on the site:

href=”http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/18d8042386b79e2c279fd162df0205c8″>Press Here to see the video

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