God Feels, But Commits. We Feel, And De-Commit.

I’ve got a confession to make, and perhaps it makes me un-American. And I’m OK with that.

I can’t stand Top Gun. I like Tom Cruise about 75 percent of the time, and I love America, but I can’t stand the movie. I don’t see what’s so fantastic about it. Along with Forrest GumpTop Gun is one of the “American movie classics” I don’t like and would never choose to watch.

One of the trademark scenes in Top Gun is when Tom Cruise’s character sings the song “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” to Kelly McGillis’ character in a bar. The song was ranked No. 34 of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stone in December 2004. The second verse goes:

Now there’s no welcome look in your eyes when I reach for you
And now you’re starting to criticize the things I do
It makes me just feel like crying (baby)
‘Cause baby, something beautiful’s dying

Maybe it’s my cynicism, maybe it’s my maturity, but I find the premise of this song to be rather childish. And maybe that response is too harsh. Let me explain.

Real love can never be about the feeling. It should never be about the feeling. When you’ve lost that “lovin’ feelin’,” there’s no need for the relationship to die. And we see the perfect example of that in the God of the Bible.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see God’s displeasure with the people of Israel, but also His passion for sticking with them. In Jeremiah 3, God is speaking to the prophet about the unfaithfulness of His people and we see an interesting juxtaposition. Verse 10 says that Judah returned to God but not “with her whole heart, but in pretense.”

In verses 11-14, God says:

Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD, I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD. I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God, and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD. Return, O faithless children, declares the LORD; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

God sees His people being faithless to Him. He says He is angry, but He will not hold His anger forever. There is a sense where He’s not letting His anger, the feeling, the state of mind, be the driving force behind His decision-making.

An article on MSN.com (admittedly not the greatest source and I couldn’t find the survey they cited) listed the top eight most common reasons for divorce. Among the top reasons were lack of commitment (73 percent of those surveyed), infidelity (55 percent) and unrealistic expectations (45 percent). Each of those things, as well as the rest of the list, involve a great deal of submission to feelings.

How many times have you heard in TV shows or movies the sentence “I don’t love you anymore”? Have you said that to someone? Has someone said that to you?

We are a very emotional people. We have been and we always will be. We can’t escape the fact that we are guided by emotions and feelings, particularly females. But there are also dudes (like me) who let their emotions get the best of them and submit to them. The thing about our feelings is that they come and go, sometimes by the second. We can be totally on board with something like marriage, but then a few feelings later be questioning our commitment and then breaking it.

I’m afraid that often we are addicted to happiness, constantly seeking after things that will make us happy and forget about the cares of the world. This is prevalent in Christians. I can’t tell you how often I’ve gone to church and hoped that I would get emotionally psyched about following God. But if I’m honest, those times are few and far between. There’s little to no consistency about it. In fact, I’m often the opposite of emotionally psyched. I’m either emotionally drained, emotionally bored or emotionally vacant. No feeling. But I can’t let that keep me from pursuing Christ. I can’t let that keep me from loving God or loving anyone else.

I think the biggest cause of church-raised college kids dropping out from following Christ is the loss of the emotional high they get from being in a church environment every week. They get busy and miss church, and they weren’t raised to think properly above everything else. So when they get to college and their emotions are dragged about by the temptations at hand, they go to what makes them feel happy, what makes them feel good. They get tired of the rules and religion associated with Christianity and they ditch it, looking for that emotional high. They didn’t learn – perhaps weren’t taught – that what’s truly important in life is thinking the right way. And when two things happen – their emotions captured by the college lifestyle and their thinking challenged by academia – they lose their faith. No shock, because there wasn’t much of a foundation to begin with.

Just some thoughts I’ve had kicking around. If you take anything from this post, take this:

Following Jesus is much more about how you think. How you feel plays a very small part.

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