My own personal stance against religious hypocrisy - both my own, and any others who seek to hurt people in the name of God.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It Can Be Hard

Sometimes it's hard to continue in faith. To believe. I struggle with this more than anything else I know. And not just believing and having faith in God. For me, it's believing and having faith in anything. I'm jaded and cynical. I'm worn out and beaten up. The old vaudeville comedy sketch of the sad clown holds true in my heart so often: "Nothing good ever happens to me."

Sometimes it's hard to believe, and what makes it harder is the constant teaching that we believe what we feel. Our culture is so about feelings. How do we know if we love somebody? We feel good about them. How do we know we hate them? We feel bad toward them. How do we know what's right? We go with our feelings. How do we know we're spiritual? We feel it. How do we trust God? With our feelings.

What a crock! And we all fall for it to some degree or another. Some poor souls are completely lost in this Gospel of Feelings.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord. James 1:5-8 Revised Standard Version

Sometimes I have been just like that. I haven't been able to "grab on" and hold. I'm tossed hither and yon by my emotions.

Emotions are powerful things, and if we let them they will rule our lives. Not a good way to live.

My mother used to adhere strongly to the Gospel of Emotions. It was here belief that she the truth was what she was feeling. Thus, when she was happy with us (me) she lavished love and praise. However, let her emotions falter and her tune changed drastically. Suddenly, she "hated" us, and felt no qualms about telling us so. To this day I don't know that she fully understands the faultiness of emotions.

Emotions are like a logic test in which so many people have reversed things. Consider this question, similar to one I took on an intelligence test years ago. I will pick something foremost in a lot of people's thoughts right now.

If all coins are money, then which of the following is true?

  • All money is coins
  • No money is coins
  • Some money is coins

The answer, of course, is the last choice, for some money is also paper. But so many people get it wrong and say the first answer is right. Not with money, but with emotions.

If love contains happy feelings then what is true?

  • All happy feelings mean love
  • Some happy feelings mean love
  • The absence of happy feelings means the absence of love
How would you answer that question?

It works true with faith, too. Faith is not how we feel about a thing any more than love is.

Here is how God defines love. (emphasis mine)

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 Revised Standard Version

If you read this carefully, you will not find any stress on feelings. What is stressed are decisions and attitudes. So, if you think you are loving others as God intended, then let me ask you this: what is your opinion on using torture against terrorists? How does that fit into God's definition of love and his commission that we should love everyone as we love ourselves?

Here is what God has to say about faith.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 Revised Standard Version

This is what Merriam-Webster says about assurance.

Main Entry:
as·sur·ance Listen to the pronunciation of assurance
14th century

1: the act or action of assuring: as a: pledge, guarantee b: the act of conveying real property ; also : the instrument by which it is conveyed cchiefly British : insurance 2: the state of being assured: as a: security b: a being certain in the mind assurance of salvation> c: confidence of mind or manner : easy freedom from self-doubt or uncertainty ; also : excessive self-confidence : brashness, presumption 3: something that inspires or tends to inspire confidence assurances of goodwill>

Faith is not a feeling. It is a belief. It is demonstrated through our actions. If we have faith the ice is thick enough to hold our weight, we walk across it. If we do not have this faith, we avoid the ice. Walking across the ice can be one of two things: acting in faith; acting in pride.

Jesus gave this example when he was tempted in the wilderness.

And he (Satan) took him (Jesus) to Jerusalem, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you, to guard you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Luke 4:9-12 Revised Standard Version

What does this teach us? That sometimes we have to use our brains and determine what it is we believe and why. Are we acting in faith, fear, or pride? Only faith will keep us right with God. When in doubt, remember to act in love. Love is greater than faith. That you can count on.

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