Emotions are very real and very powerful. This morning I packed up my church office in preparation for our move from Clayton back to Pittsburgh in just four days from now. I felt deep emotion as I packed those boxes. In about three hours, the staff is hosting a luncheon for Tacey and me as a kind of final farewell. It will be for us an emotional luncheon.
I think, too, of the emotions on display after the recent presidential election. To love our neighbor well we must seek to understand and respect their emotions, even when we may not be able to relate to those
Scripture says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and that includes our capacity for emotions. The Christian life is more than mere emotion, but not less. God has created us as multi-faceted creatures made in his image. We are emotional (feelings), intellectual (minds), volitional (wills), relational, sexual, vocational, and temporal beings. What is missing from this list? Are we not, at our core, spiritual beings as well?
Often the intensity of our emotions reveals the spiritual reality of our hearts. When I sense anxiety rising in my heart, it often reveals a weakness of my faith. When I grow angry with my circumstances, that anger often reveals my refusal to accept God’s providence. Emotions – especially unhealthy ones – are the means by which God reveals to me my heart and my need for the gospel every day. Emotions are a blessing, but they can also be a cruel taskmaster and an idol. When they rise to a place of power and control and supersede the lordship of Christ, they must be dethroned.
There is a power greater than emotions, greater than elections, greater than transitions – it is the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16-17). Deep in every human heart there is a trinity of need, a triangle of desire, and a three-fold perpetual hunger for significance, security, and belonging. We want to believe that our life matters (significance), that we are safe (security), and that we are meaningfully connected to others (belonging). The gospel provides us with all three, while the world and our flesh pursue imposters.
Although God is the source of all three, he often grants us to experience all three through his body, his church. We are the instrumental cause of providing these three essentials while the Lord is the ultimate cause. I believe the Lord has used us in the life of Central and he has used Central in our lives to affirm the life-giving and life-directing truth that Jesus Christ provides us with ultimate significance (we are his children), security (no one can snatch us from his hand), and belonging (to Christ and his people).
Because our cup is full of his grace and truth, we then reach out, love our neighbor, and by word and deed point them to the only One who is the true source of significance, security, and belonging. It was been a joy for Tacey and me to be part of this reality at Central Presbyterian Church.
Thank you for your love and kindness,
Bob and Tacey