Faith over Feelings

“Feelings are great liars. If Christians worshipped only when they felt like it, there would be precious little worship. We think that if we don’t feel something there can be no authenticity in doing it. But the wisdom of God says something different: that we can act ourselves into a new way of feeling much quicker than we can feel ourselves into a new way of acting. Worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship” (Eugene Peterson).

I once heard that your feelings can lie to you. I’ve learned that truth the hard way. You can’t always trust how you feel because so many random things affect your feelings. If you’re tired or stressed or hungry, you tend more toward negative emotions. On the other hand, if I’ve just had coffee, then sometimes my feelings are inflated above what they normally would be.

I’ve also heard that if you lose the feelings of love in a relationship, the way to restore them is to do the acts of love. Even if they’re rote and without feeling at first, eventually the feelings will come. You can’t act in a genuine loving way without coming to a point where you feel love. Jesus in His humanity experienced all the same emotions and you and I face, but He was perfectly obedient to His Father because He did the acts of obedience when He may not have felt obedient.

Faith isn’t a feeling. Love isn’t a feeling. Both are acts of the will. Both are choices that we make, regardless of whether they are accompanied by feelings or not. Choosing to act when you don’t feel like it isn’t inauthentic; it’s called maturity and discipline. Choosing to believe when you don’t feel it is called faith.

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