A young woman about to be married was counseling with her pastor. She made these statements: “He’s not a Christian yet. He refuses to go to church, but I know he will some day.”
The pastor asked her how she knew God told her to marry this guy. She answered, “Pastor, I just feel it. I know it’s right.”
A year later the same woman was in the pastor’s office and told him, “I don’t believe God wants me to stay in an unhappy marriage. I’ve been unhappy with John for a year. He doesn’t go to church with me. He’s consumed with work and sports and we’re never together sexually. I just don’t feel like I love him anymore so I’ve decided to divorce him.”¹
We used to be skeptical of feelings in the church because they could vary so widely and change so quickly. Now we praise them. Many of us depend on them when we make critical decisions. We ask ourselves, “How does it feel?” As a culture we have embraced an “if-it-feels-good-do-it” mindset that, to a considerable degree, influences our decisions, our thinking and our lives.
Feelings are important. God created them so we could be emotionally or morally sensitive. Feelings are the natural response to circumstances, people and other stimuli in our lives.
But when feelings become more important than faith, then feelings become big and God becomes small.
In his book, “When People Are Big and God Is Small” Edward T. Welch says, “Modern spirituality has no hell, no doctrine, no substance. It is about feeling.”²
I’m reading his book for the second time. As I read, I’m asking myself, “How big a part do feelings play in my relationship with God?” and this one: “Are my feelings bigger than God?”
How about you? Here’s a suggestion. Draw a pie graph with two pieces. Make one piece indicate how important feelings are to you. Make the other piece indicate how important God is to you. Sorry. I can’t do that yet. I’d be afraid to see how big (or small) the pieces were. I’m not sure I could even be honest.
This is a paraphrase of an actual counseling session a pastor recorded in a book he wrote.
When People Are Big and God Is Small;by Edward T. Welch;P&R Publishing; Phillipsburg, NJ;©1997; pg. 84.