Human beings are emotional creatures and this is both a blessing and a bane. We have all experienced their ability to carry us to the highest heights and plummet us to the lowest depths. And so, we have developed our own ways of dealing with emotions… of managing our passions. Yet regardless of how we feel about emotions, we all hold one emotional behavior in common—we are most excited about those beliefs to which we are most committed. In fact, we even tend to question whether somebody truly believes something if they are not moved by it.
As Christians, are we truly joyful about what we believe? If our faith is the most important thing in our life… do we act like it is? Do we look like it is? For many of us, we have lost the ability to be truly moved by the wonder and glory of what we believe. There are as many reasons as the unique details of our individual lives why we may feel emotionally numb in regards to our faith.
Regardless the reasons for a lack of joy, the solution is always the same. The more we encounter God, the more vibrant our faith becomes. Last week I shared how God’s presence is the answer to hope. This week I expand on that to claim that hope is symptomatic of a healthy heart… it is a consequence that flows from hearts that have come alive to joy. So yes, our salvation in Christ does not depend on our feelings but the experience of a living and vibrant hope requires a heart that knows the joy of the Lord.
If our hearts are in need of such a touch from God, we must remember what we used to do when we knew such joy. It really isn’t complicated… we must return to the fundamentals of our faith. Since the inception of the church there have always been certain activities-behaviors that have proven to be effective and enduring means of maintaining spiritual vitality.
Such acts are prayer, reading Scripture, worship, taking Holy Communion, listening to the preaching and teaching of Scripture, and meeting together with other Christians to pray for and encourage each other. Such acts are not merely things Christians “ought to do” but behavior that literally mediates to us God’s gracious presence.
When we neglect such behaviors we stifle the joy of God’s real presence in our lives. Of course, his presence never leaves us but our awareness of it can… and the implications of such imperceptiveness are a brutal price to pay for such neglect. Next week, we return to the theme of suffering and how it relates to our ability to experience God’s presence.
What Do You Think?
Have you ever experienced true joy in your relationship with God… what did it feel like? Which activities-behaviors do you need to reintroduce into your life to increase awareness of God’s presence?