Becoming a Christian also involves your emotions.
From the Scripture we know that God has emotions. He feels love, joy, sorrow, compassion, anger, disappointment and many other emotions. The Bible also says you are created in the image of God. As a part of His image, God has given you the capacity to experience emotions. Just about everything you do, from the time you awaken in the morning until you go to sleep at night, involves emotions.
Each person who receives Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord will have a different kind of emotional experience. Paul met God through a dramatic encounter on the road to Damascus. Timothy, on the other hand, was raised in a Christian home where he came to know Christ at an early age and gradually grew in his faith.
One frequently hears Christians enthusiastically sharing how their dramatic encounters with Christ resulted in their being healed of drug addiction, gross immorality or some other distressing problem. The fact that their lives were indeed changed validates their claims.
On the other hand, there are many who have knelt quietly in the privacy of their homes, as I did, or at a mountain retreat, or in a church sanctuary and there received Christ into their lives with no dramatic emotional experience.
Emotions can be misleading. Probably no one issue has caused more people to lack the assurance of a vital relationship with God than a wrong emphasis on feelings. I have had moments of great joy, enthusiasm and spiritual awareness. And I have also felt times of sorrow and disappointment. But I do not depend on these feelings to determine my union with God. My emotions can be very deceiving.
We are to live the Christian life by faith, not emotions. Yes, emotions have a place in your experience, but how you feel does not determine the truth of your life with Christ. Rather, your emotions are a result of your faith and obedience. Our Lord said, "The one who obeys me is the one who loves me; and because he loves me, my Father will love him; and I will too, and I will reveal myself to him." The Book of Romans assures us, "In the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'"
There is a place for emotions in the Christian experience, though you should not seek them nor attempt to recapture them from the past. While you should not ignore the value of legitimate emotions, it is more important to remember that you are to live by faith in God and in His promises- and not by seeking an emotional experience.
An acquaintance brought his friend to see me, hoping that he might receive Christ, which he did. But in the course of our conversation, it became apparent that my friend, despite his concern for his friend, was himself not a Christian. So I asked him, "When did you become a Christian?"
"I'm not really sure that I am a Christian," he replied.
"Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?"
"Do you believe that He died on the cross for your sins?"
"Do you believe that if you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, He will come into your life and make you a child of God?"
"You would like to receive Him, wouldn't you?"
"Yes, I would. But I'm waiting for an experience. When my mother became a Christian, she had a dramatic emotional experience, and I've been waiting all these years for God to give me such an experience."
Although he was a professing Christian and active in his church, the thing that kept him from assurance of salvation was the wrong emphasis on emotions. I was able to explain to him that he did not have to look for an emotional experience, but could believe God's Word. Finally we bowed in prayer, and as a simple expression of faith, he received Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord and rejoiced in the certainty that Christ was in his life.
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Be Sure You Are a Christian, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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