Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Applying heaven’s perspective to our thoughts and feelings
This bank is said to be paying £8bn – the biggest fine ever paid by a bank – to put right its reputation after a series of wrong transactions. A new start, a clean sheet, new standard of integrity – or will the old ways carry over?
Then will all your people be righteous…
Yesterday we took the promise from Isaiah into our understanding of knowing God personally through receiving Jesus as Lord and Saviour. In Jesus we have new life… and a new nature. The old has gone, the new has come.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)
Reborn into a new and living hope… (1 Peter 1:3)
The Bible rings out with truths about who we are in Jesus, and how we have had right standing with God imparted to us through our being “in Him”. Yet it doesn’t automatically feel that way. There’s light, and there’s also some darkness where the light has not yet penetrated. The Bible tells us plainly: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Nevertheless, we still doubt that God really is “for us” – and that leaves us feeling that we are up a religious creek with a religious paddle, needing to work our way laboriously out of the mud, and back to feeling the lift of a rising tide.
Life has ups and downs, and for some reason we dwell on the downs more than we remember the ups. An accumulation of downs – or our perception of a series of downs – can leave us… down, and holding a tatty self portrait, not the redeemed, empowered and cherished picture our Father has presented to us.
There are three common misdirections which commonly get us trapped. We’ll take a couple of them today.
Number one is one we have already begun to explore: “What we feel, is how we believe it is” (see yesterday’s blog, October 22).
Our whole lifetime apart from Jesus has taught us this bad practice. People who do executive coaching (not necessarily based on Christian beliefs or values) are finding a sought-after niche. People who need to ‘raise their game’ in the business or professional world, or for that matter in the sporting world, where it started, find it highly worthwhile to be helped to get beyond the limit of their own self-perceptions. In other words, to learn to rise above what they think they can or can’t do.
Feelings are gauges of emotions. They show us when there is some overload or overactivity. Then we can explore why. However, feelings are not truth – and it is truth that underlies the values that determine how we behave, or the attitudes we hold. It’s about what we’re thinking – does it agree with what is being said in heaven, or what is being muttered in hell?
Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)
For as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.
Number two may start with how we feel but now it has settled into a kind of limiting belief, we call a stronghold – a walled-up defence against the truth God wants us to hold for Him – “Not me! I’m disqualified, inadequate, ill equipped and failure-prone.”
For some reason, we think that being a disciple is something for certain ‘chosen’ people, not for everyone, and certainly not for us.
An overseas mission trip is a good corrective. Out there, we are put on the spot, with people having an expectation of seeing God in us and experiencing God through us. An unreasonable expectation, probably… But we rise to it, perhaps unwillingly, and have a go. And as we do, we receive and we learn and we are changed by it – quite apart from what we manage to impart to others.
To partner with someone else (not necessarily on a trip overseas!) in some form of ministry that takes you beyond where you are comfortable – praying with others, perhaps, or seeking a prophetic word – is another good way to break out of this trap. When you see God working, and you know that you were a channel for that too, the trap cannot hold you.
Here’s a thought to dwell on. If, in practice, I hold to my version of who I am and how I am and whether I can do this disciple thing or not – what is that? Is that ‘being honest’ or ‘being realistic’ or ‘not thinking more highly of myself than I should’ – or is it an argument with God who created me, Jesus who is saving me and what the Bible says about me? Those arguments never play out well for us. The real bottom line is this: if we assert what we feel and believe over and above what God says about us – we are saying that we know better. That is actually a form of pride!