Let's talk meme theology.... this is a mini-series and not a part of my regular deeper discussions on apologetics, church and overcoming anxiety and adhd.
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Here is another popular meme that has been blowing through the social media landscape:
“I've wasted enough time on things that never felt right, I'm listening to my soul now” - unknown
I’m currently in my mid fifties, in my life I have been on both sides of the above statement. I’ve felt pressured into relationships, business arrangements, volunteer roles and more which “did not feel right” and I have also pursued aggressively the same things because they felt right. There has been no consistent outcome on the things that felt right versus the ones that did not. In some cases after I started down a road I felt off... and those feelings needed to be analyzed and compared to the facts... but the feelings themselves were often wrong or connected to past trauma. Sometimes my heart has screamed “NO” but in the end I was glad I did not give in to my feelings. Other times I was all in, and the end result produced horrible results.
This fascination our culture has with our feelings over facts is not only opposed to the Bible but also to common sense. How often do we hear the term “whatever makes you happy!”? Happiness has now become our idol… our God… to the degree where if one does not have it they "feel" as if they have to make radical, often bordering on narcissistic life changes…
In the nineties I found myself passionately pursuing self employment… I was not going to be talked out of it. It felt right. I pursued it at the expense of family, marriage and financial stability. I was consumed by a desire to be successful. It turned out to be a wrong decision. Now… don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking back and beating myself up for that. I’m not nearly the first man to make a mistake and I darn sure won’t be the last to allow my personal desires and passions to become my idol. As a matter of fact the Bible is full of such men… who tried it their way first and then came back to God broken and ready to try things a different way.
Feelings - as you know if you follow this blog cannot be trusted. They are fickle… they are easily deceived and manipulated… they are completely unreliable… at the same time I’m glad that they exist! The feeling of first time love… the feeling of oneness with God when we are walking in right relationship… the feeling of becoming a parent… the feeling of holding a grandchild who smiles at you… the feeling of a first kiss… the feeling of being appreciated for a job well done. Feelings are good… negative feelings are a signal to dig deeper into facts… to find out why… to pause… to take a step back… to rest. What negative or positive feelings are not useful for is making life altering decisions…
As soldier will spend years training to overcome feelings so that their fight or flight response won’t cause their feelings to react and take over with negative results. They are trained to respond to facts on the field… not a gut feeling… but that that gut feeling still has purpose. Sensing danger will cause the soldier to be extra cautious in their surroundings.
While Jesus said little of how we should manage our feelings here is some food for thought:
In Mark 10 he told the rich man - who I’m sure He knew valued his money and wealth more than everything. His joy came from wealth… Jesus said “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”. The man walked away!
In Luke 12 Jesus says “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.”. The context was standing against persecution and standing firm in our faith.
Then of course there is the famous sermon on the mount where Jesus says that not everyone who says “Lord Lord” will enter heaven. Why would he say that? He is speaking of self deception… when we believe our own kool-aid. This sermon is the central part of Jesus teachings. It is found in Matthew 5-7 and if the body of Christ would just follow those teachings alone the entire world would take notice!
In the book of Luke in chapter 12 we find this verse…
“And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’”
Jesus says of this man that his soul would be taken that very night. His treasure and his trust was in the wrong place...
The Greek definition of the English word “soul” in this passage according to Strongs dictionary is “(a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual.”
In the Luke 12 passage specifically those who would have read the passage at the time of writing would have understood soul to mean:
“the soul (Latinanimus), a. the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our soul, heart,”
Clearly, our feelings, desires, affections and aversions cannot be trusted…
This verse could be translated to say this in the context of the intended definition:
Dear self, deepest desires and affections, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.
Reading further Jesus says this was the response:
“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
True wealth... to be rich in Christ will mean pursuing His goals. Our natural inclination should grow towards aligning with His purposes and His will. It will not be forced if our hearts align fully with His... that is my life goal and I hope yours as well.
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Let’s be the change!