Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Maybe It Is Not About What You Feel

Relevant Magazine carried a piece by a young person about worship, feelings and thought. She goes some good places:
Of course, even in these reflections, I’m thinking primarily about myself. "I"s and "me"s often come with the territory of over-introspection and cynicism.

But here’s a simple truth that does not allow for much analytical wiggle room: Worship is about God, not me.

C.S. Lewis describes in Surprised by Joy how, even as an atheist, his love for mythology primed him for worship because he felt an urgent adoration for something completely other than himself. Lewis felt he was “sent back to the false gods to acquire some capacity for worship” that would evolve to adoration of God ”being what He necessarily is than for any particular benefit He confers upon us.”
But it ends in a somewhat strange place:
We are readers of texts and hearers of songs, and we are often critics. We have amassed so many experiences and biases that often color the songs we sing. Our Christian responsibility as receivers of the word and the Word is to not resign to a rhetorical wasteland of meaninglessness, however. It is to actively, creatively and faithfully "re-fill" the meanings of words like holiness, love, truth and grace as we sing. And that also means choosing to stop the analytical dissection. Criticism is a God-given ability; but we need to bring it full circle into greater adoration of Him.

One Sunday at church, a song's repeated line was "I surrender all.” It is a difficult but inspiring sentiment—a sentiment that basically makes me want to crawl under the pew for not meaning it every time I sing it.

But in refreshing transparency, the pastor admitted he didn't feel surrendered as he sang; he said he felt like he was singing, "Sorry, God, but I'm only surrendering some." Sure, Christians should surrender all. But honesty is the first step toward cultivating a desire to "surrender all" and internalizing the prescript more fully. And here is the authenticity we so long for.
Why do feelings matter at all? I realize that she is trying to push through what she elsewhere describes as the "me barrier," but why are feeling even part of that barrier? Feelings, paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, are subject to the state of our digestion.

I truly understand the need and the desire for the transcendent experience of God - but transcendence is not about feelings - it means literally that we rise above the self of feelings and thought. It is a process of ignoring these things in order to find the higher things. IN focusing on feeling or thought we stay firmly rooted where we are.

Feelings do not need to be overcome, they need to be ignored.


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