More than a Feeling
By Luzél Opperman
“Greater love has no-one than this, that he may lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 5: 13-14)
My friend and I once decided to stop mid-conversation and pray for each other (the ‘casual’ things Christians do hey?). His prayer went a little like this: “Lord, please help us to not allow our emotions run our faith, but instead let our faith take charge of our emotions.”
This prayer stuck with me. I thought about how I often allow emotions to control most of my actions. Love had just become a very strong emotion that consumed me. However, what I thought love was is not how the Bible defines it as we read in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I admittedly thought love to be some sort of consumer system – what I give I will receive. If I do not receive love the way I expected, I take my business elsewhere. In short, I was being selfish instead of selfless. I put a penny into the love vending machine, and if what came out was not satisfying, I would go in search for it somewhere else. Day-dreaming about love distracted me in class as thoughts of countless hours with my crush seemed far more entertaining than the assignment outline my lecturer was telling me about.
Yet, the Bible teaches us differently. It teaches us to be selfless as we live in a covenant relationship of unconditional love from God, instead of being a consumer. The Bible teaches that God is the source of love. He is not just an emotion-dispenser, but the root of love. A great place to turn to is 1 John 4:7-10 which reads:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Being in a relationship with God is living in a counter-culture to the empty promises of the world, where your life becomes more than what you feel is best for yourself. As our lives become a physical representation of the invisible reality that we have been saved by the love of Christ, our relationship with God will deepen. And as that relationship deepens, so does our love for God and the things of God.
Being in a relationship with God is living in a counter-culture to the empty promises of the world, where your life becomes more than what you feel is best for yourself.
What can satisfy?
Many confuse happiness for joy. The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is my strength[i]. Yes, you can feel joy, but it goes beyond that. If you think that the ultimate thing you need in this world is a spouse and kids in a wonderful, perfect little house or big mansion (whatever floats your boat), you will never truly be happy. Jesus is the living water that will satisfy your thirst. This is a joy that the world doesn’t understand. Imagine being in a boat on the ocean; you are surrounded by water that you cannot drink. Living in the promises of the Word, on the other hand, will mean that you can drink from the stream of life! Contrary to the sea water, this water is rejuvenating. It will leave you wanting more and more and will always satisfy.
We need to love Jesus more than we love anyone else. If we don’t, then we not only fail to understand the true definition of love, but will also never desire to love and serve others like He does. We need to meet Jesus at the well, and believe that He is the only One who can quench our thirst.
Imagine again that you are at sea, so thirsty that you’ve tried the sea water, but it just can’t bring lasting satisfaction. Horrible thought, right? Well, if you continue to chase after the things of the world, the same will happen. Only Jesus can bring deep, lasting joy and fulfilment that your heart yearns for.
When you allow your emotions to run your faith, you act in ways that may make you feel good. But when you allow your faith in the sure promises of God’s word direct and lead your heart, your selfish desires become less so that you live more and more selflessly as a vessel of light in this dark world.
[i] Nehemiah 8:10