It is finished... really! (Are you feelin' it?)Posted: Wed. Jul, 20 2016
Our emotional life
The fruit of the Spirit is joy -that’s GAL 5:22.
I take this to mean that the Spirit wants us to be joyful. Happy.
This is emotional as well as spiritual and rational.
Now, our emotional life is very different from our mental life.
In fact, our emotions carry on a life of their own.
We can grasp something intellectually, but then find it takes weeks, months, even years sometimes for our emotions to buy into what we have learned.
We can guide our emotions by our thoughts, but it is by no means a straightforward matter. Emotions meander. Whereas our thinking will drive straight to a clear resolution, emotions will take their own sweet time getting there.
Our emotions can be messy and uncooperative even.
Our mind can be convinced. Our emotions often need to be coaxed.
And when we do not allow our emotions to work things out their way, they will wreak havoc on the rest of our spiritual, mental, and physical well-being.
The kinds of things that nurture our emotional well-being are very different from the things that foster our intellectual development.
Our emotions get nurtured by music. Exercise. Companionship. Poetry. Art. Watching a sunset. Taking a prayer walk. Aromatherapy. Going to the movies. Talking to a trusted friend who will just listen without judging or spilling the beans to others.
Church culture today often tends to give these things short shrift. In fact many in the church are openly hostile and dismissive of the value of these things.
But these things are the things of common sense and wisdom. We are the poorer for having diminished their importance.
One result of this is some really freakish behavior and practices in Christianity. When we neglect the healthy ways to deal with our emotions, we are left to fall into unhealthy ones.
It IS finished!
And the fruit of the Spirit is joy.
And the basis for our joy is the cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus cried out “It is finished” just before He died on the cross.
He dealt with the whole ballgame: everything that plagues you and I about how we are, how we sin and fall short, all our perverseness, our wrong desires, our delusions about ourselves.
He dealt with the whole package: us as sinners. Everything. Finished. Forever.
By one sacrifice we have been sanctified for all time.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Now we may know this, but that is not the whole story.
That’s because that it takes time for the rest of us to catch up with our intellectual grasping of these facts. Especially our emotions.
We had our vacation Bible school last week. One of our teachers was teaching the gospel to her class. One bright boy said “I know that”. I am so glad that he does.
But you see, he was bored. He wanted to learn something new. Of course he did. He’s a kid!
Well, not everybody in this class knew the gospel, and in fact we had some children that were saved last week when they heard the gospel and believed it. Praise God!
Now this bright boy knows the gospel and no doubt believes it and is born again.
However- one thing I have learned over the years is this:
I benefit from spending time with the gospel every day.
One reason for that is that I continue to grapple with aspects of myself that are sinful and are the reason that Christ had to die.
But there is something else as well.
My emotional make-up has not caught up with my knowledge about Christ.
I need my emotions to keep embracing the good news of Jesus.
It’s all wrapped around what Jesus said: “It is finished.”
I used to beat myself up - I still do - for not having enough faith in “It is finished”.
Every time I would discover another thing about me that was ugly and sinful, it seemed as if “It is finished” did not automatically register as taking care of the guilt and pain and fear and discouragement that surfaced around that sinful part of me.
But it’s beginning to dawn on me that it is not really primarily a faith issue.
It’s an emotional issue.
We are to be renewed by the word of God.
Part of that renewal is emotional renewal.
We can be fast learners but slow feelers.
I can know that God loves me, yet continue to treat myself like somebody God hates.
My emotions have a life of their own. So do yours.
Our Lord is at work on all of us. Every part of us.
All of us means mind, heart, soul, and strength. And that includes our emotions.
We say He wants our emotions - and the problem is that we often go about it as if we have to force them to behave the way we would like them to.
But the fact is that He wants to heal our emotions. Renew them too . Bring them from death to life too.
The governing power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set YOU free from the governing power of sin and death.
YOU includes your emotions.
If our emotions are going haywire, it is very difficult to experience the peace that surpasses understanding.
God loves me no matter what.
Jesus took care of all of my “no matter what”s at the cross. It is finished.
God cares about me. He restores my soul.
So it ccurs to me that He is probably a lot more relaxed about how we relax than we are.
Now the music of Barry Manilow really does wonders for my emotions.
Go ahead - no, really - laugh, roll your eyes, say “o brother” - get it all out of the way.
But then there’s that “voice” in my head at times - “that’s not Christian music”.
No it isn’t, I suppose, and yet, God cares for me and works to restore my soul.
So if listening to Barry Manilow helps soothe my emotions, if I enjoy it, and God cares for my emotional well-being - I figure He’s OK with it.
This is an EMOTIONAL thing. It’s not a faith thing. Sometimes we just need to chill.
The fruit of the Spirit is joy.
Jesus paid it all.
Not the part but the whole.
And it was for freedom that Christ set us free.
There is no condemnation for me who is in Christ Jesus.
Besides, how does the “voice” know what Jesus thinks about Barry Manilow music? Maybe He likes it too.
I wonder what kind of music was played at the party that the tax collector threw for Jesus?
Playing catch-up with our emotions
The saints in the Bible had emotions too - and they needed time and nurturing for those emotions to catch up with what they saw and learned too.
I think that might be why people wanted to keep hanging around Jesus after they were saved.
We usually presume that they were showing devotion….
… but maybe it was also because they just felt better when they were around Him ..
…as He kept saying things like “Your Heavenly Father loves you” and “your sins are forgiven” … and “I will give you rest”.
They needed to be reminded again and again, so their emotions could catch up with what they had heard and seen and learned.
There is a great old hymn called “It is well with my soul”. I particularly enjoy the rendition that Chris Rice recorded on his “Peace like a River” album.
I usually approach hymns saying , “well, I better line up with what these words are saying so I give glory to God now”.
But actually I’d be a whole lot better off if I just started to let the words minister to me more.
To listen to the songs again and again, to help my soul heal and help my emotions catch up to what my mind knows is true from the Bible.
Here are some of the lyrics that touch my emotions when I hear, just hear, not preach with, but just HEAR this beautiful hymn:
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Or in other words,
It is finished.
Take it in, again and again.
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.
It is FINISHED.
There is no condemnation.
Jesus bore the weight of the world on His shoulders
So I wouldn’t have to.
Going “all in”
You know what would be really healing for our emotions ?
Starting to go “all in” for the love of God.
Taking God at His word when He says things like …
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
“Even if a nursing mother should abandon her baby I will never abandon you. See - I have carved you in the palm of My hand.”
“You are my beloved child”.
“Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep my love from you. Nothing in this life can. Death can’t. Nor can angels or principalities or things present or things to come , nor powers, nor height nor depth, no, not any created thing can ever separate you from My Love, which is in Christ Jesus, your Lord, My Son!”
Maybe listen to, I don't know, a Barry Manilow love song (or any love song that moves you) and let God sing it to you.
So the Lord wants to restore our soul, and that means He wants us to nurture our emotional life.
Our emotions thrive on rich, loving relationships with other people.
Isn’t part of being kind to one another, encouraging one another, loving one another - simply ENJOYING one another’s company? Doing the human things people enjoying one another’s company do.
Going out to lunch. Watching sports. Listening to music. Dancing. Going to the movies together.
God invented music. And lunch. And movies. He also invented aromatherapy , mindfulness, and baseball.
OK, so it's time for a segway here.... speaking of emotions...
Baseball is about fathers and sons. So maybe God invented baseball so that when His Son came home to live forever with Him in heaven, they could play the game together. Choose in the angels.
And when at last we are all in heaven, I imagine that we will be playing the ultimate baseball game. The one we always dreamed of. Where everybody gets to play their favorite position.
God our Father will be the pitcher. And He will throw the ball right where we like to hit it. Because that’s what fathers do with their children when they play baseball with them.
So when we get to bat, everyone will always get a hit.
And see, a baseball game where everyone gets a hit…. NEVER ENDS.
That’s my favorite way to try to imagine what eternal life will be like.
Handle with care
The Holy Spirit wants us to live lives of love, joy and peace. Count on it. He is patiently bearing with us and encouraging us while our emotions get on board and start to embrace this new life too.
And whenever that joy is threatened by something about yourself that just bugs you, trust that Jesus will always make good in your life the words that He spoke on that cross that day on Calvary.
It really IS finished!
Now treat yourself like somebody that God loves greatly.
Be kind to yourself.
Give your emotions the time and space
and the nurturing and understanding they need
to embrace the amazing truth of the gospel
a little more fully
Until the next time, we’re all ….
In His grip,
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