How the Gospel Redeems Our Feelings

Desiring God | 6/21/2019 | Paul Miller
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Every age builds a moral vision around the things it holds sacred. The Renaissance enthroned man and made him “the measure of all things.” Economic progress was the Industrial Revolution’s vision of the good. Post–World War II America built its morality around prosperity and growth.

Our age is defined by a kind of emotivism, which I have elsewhere called “feelism.” Feelism drives emotions to the center, distorting and amplifying them until “How does this make me feel?” becomes the measure of truth. When something causes me to feel bad, I judge it as “wrong for me.” We’ve all seen this logic play out in the lives of people around us and, at times, in our own hearts.

Feelism - Anything - Anxiety - Pain - Discomfort

Feelism suggests that anything causing us anxiety, pain, or discomfort is wrong. But Jesus allowed himself to be wearied, slandered, mocked, beaten, and ultimately crucified for the sake of love. And, as he says in Matthew 10:24, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.” What should we, as followers of Jesus, expect life to feel like? What does the gospel say to our emotions?

Jesus’s dying and rising offers sanity and stability to our emotions in at least three ways.

Gospel

1. The gospel normalizes suffering.

In Philippians 3:10, the apostle Paul acknowledges something we’d rather gloss over: Jesus’s life takes a downward path into death before moving upward into resurrection. The path to resurrection power and victory involves “[sharing] his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Visualize this pattern by tracing out the letter “J,” which takes us down into death, then up into resurrection. Paul describes this path as the normal Christian life — a reenacting of the death and resurrection of Jesus — but, under the influence of feelism, it doesn’t feel normal to most Christians.

Dying - Rising

If dying and rising...
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