The english language sucks when it comes to love, because we just have one word, love. One could say they love God, their mother, their spouse, their cat, and bacon, and each mean entirely different things. I am not going to get into agape love, which is God's unconditional love for us, but mortal love between us as people, and love built on faith (our love towards God).
I was listening to a BadChristian podcast today, and they had as a guest someone I used to admire. This particular person's worship songs are some of the most beautiful worship songs I've ever heard, and his worship albums literally got me through the toughest time of my life. But in listening to the podcast today, he had completely lost his love for God. He stated he still believes in "a god", he just isn't sure who that god is. He also went through some tough times, and since going through them, it made him change his perspective on his faith and on God. He then stated that his feelings were all he had to go off of, that they were his "barometer", and then essentially asked "why would God give us these feelings if not to use them." To summarize it all up, he lost his faith, no longer identifies as a Christian, no longer believes in heaven or hell, no longer believes the Bible to be the infallible word of God, and just believes in a "god", whoever he, or she, may be, and it is all based off what he feels.
Holding the Bible to be the infallible word of God is hard, I get it, that takes a lot of faith, but without first setting that foundation, your faith will truly crumble. I could also get into all the evidence showing the Bible to be the most historically accurate book ever written, but that is not what this blog is for. Keeping up our relationship with God can be hard, but it shouldn't be burdensome. In listening to his story, it eventually became clear that it was pretty much safe to assume that he was probably never saved to begin with. He gave the story of when he met a jewish man who didn't believe in Judaism and simply identified as jewish because it was his "heritage", and then ascribed that to himself as a Christian, as he was simply just carrying on his parents' faith without truly putting faith in it himself. He let his experiences rule his judgement, and his feelings direct his faith.
Living and making judgements based off feelings is probably one of the most dangerous things we can do. The whole "if it feels good, do it" movement of the '60s is no way to live life. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;" (Jerimiah 17:9) Letting my feelings and emotions rule my decisions has led me to do some pretty stupid things in the past, especially in regards to jealousy, a feeling that definitely can't be trusted to guide our actions. So when it comes to love, what of that? Is that just another feeling that is not to be trusted?
Love is more than a feeling, it is self-sacrificial in spite of feelings, or even when feelings completely fade away. God tells us to love our enemies, so of course we aren't going to "feel" like it, but we are to do it anyways. I love what C.S. Lewis said in regards to love.
The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more.And in our response to our love for God he says:
[We] are told [we] ought to love God. [We] cannot find such feelings in [ourselves]. What are [we] to do? The answer is the same as before. Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings. Ask yourself, 'If I were sure that I loved God, what would I do?'... Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will... We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right.
Many times I base how my relationship with God is doing off my feelings. If I feel spiritual, happy, or just good in general, I attribute it to God making me happy, and therefore my walk must be good. But what about people who struggle with depression, or perhaps even have bipolar disorder, or something of that nature, is their relationship with God less spiritual than mine? Of course not! Our feelings and emotions should not be used as a barometer! Someone in deep depression could be far closer to God than someone walking on clouds. What it comes down to is do we let our feelings (whether we are deep in depression or walking on cloud nine) rule our judgement or decisions. Granted, one may be easier than the other, but that's what makes love that much more powerful and self-sacrificing. Choosing to love God, or your neighbor, is easy when life is good or when you are happy, but someone who chooses to love when they are depressed or when life sucks, is all the more powerful, and this is where I believe that man failed. He chose to let his emotions rule, and rather than choosing self-sacrificing love, he chose self-love, which isn't really love at all.
No matter where you're at, whether you're happy, numb, depressed, choosing love is what will have the most benefit, and honestly what will probably be the most healing. Many times, we as Christians are afraid to truly admit to others how things are going when asked because we carry this sense of guilt around for feeling down, as if it's not a "Christian" thing. "We just need to have the Joy of the Lord", others may say. Let me tell you something, it's okay to be down, it's okay to admit that things just flat out suck. I've stated this in blogs before. Our walk with God and worship of Him is not based on that, nor should it be. CHOOSING to love God, to worship Him in our lows, in our depression, is a sweet sweet fragrance to our King.