Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Belief and emotion

From How To Be A Christian And Still Go To Church:
"It is quite appealing in a ministry role to manipulate emotion. In my day in Young Life we were masters at it. Not only is it easy to manipulate emotion, it's really easy in adolescents. Like counting butts in pews, emotional response is another tempting, but misleading, method to measure ministry effectiveness.

In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis says
'Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable; but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods 'where they get off,' you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion.'
In ministry we seek to help people develop genuine faith. That is terribly hard work. Frankly it is work only the Holy Spirit can do, reducing us as ministers to simply placing ourselves in that same Holy Spirit's hands to use and to produce result.

It is so tempting to control 'the weather,' by building a nice facility with all the right programs and technology, and help people have 'good digestion,' Starbucks in the Narthex - lunch after service, and achieve the emotional result we desire, an emotional result that produces the illusion of genuine faith, but a faith that disappears with the change in weather and the lousy meal.

Will faith in Christ change our emotional state? Absolutely, but our emotional state DOES NOT produce faith in Christ. We cannot afford to substitute mere emotional manipulation for genuine ministry. We cannot allow the temptations of the measurable to substitute for the reality of God's immeasurable grace."
Our faith is based on reality. Emotions come and go - but God remains.

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