Faith and Emotion in a Spirituality Transformation
The source of our emotional life is God Himself. Our ability to sense things within exists because God molded clay into an electrical chemical masterpiece that makes any computer laughable. What was His model in doing so? The answer is Himself. We are flesh and blood expressions of the divine: we are made in His image. If that is so, than the contemplation of our selves is a basic introduction to deity.
God has the ability to not only think and to will, but also to feel. The language of many Bible verses about identity in Christ expresses it this way. God is said to have two qualities: He is spirit and He has soul. The classic statement is John 4:24: ” ...God is spirit.” Spirit implies self-awareness, reflection, and will. When one examines how the Hebrew word and Greek word for spirit is used, it is commonly connected to terms of reflection, intellect, and intention.
God is also described as having a soul. Soul implies sensation, feelings, and appetites. Since He is a sensate being, God has what can be described as a soul. The source of faith and emotion is therefore God. At the center of reality is a being who feels and thinks. We are a reflection of that deep and wondrous reality. Since the Bible verses about identity in Christ say that we are made in His image, we, too, feel and think.
Our being made in His Image is the reason for our faith and emotion and our thoughts. Men and women are similar to animals in having flesh, soul, and spirit, but the critical difference is that we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28). Our physical and psychological make-up has been molded to be similar to the divine. Animals are a whimsical poetic expression of God; we are expressions of His nature.
Since God is emotional and the source of faith and emotion, it should come as no surprise that the Holy Spirit has emotions. In some senses the Holy Spirit is the emotionally rich member of the Trinity. Of course if the Spirit of God has emotions that make our emotional life, as we shall see, even more significant.
As the Bible verses about identity in Christ tell us, the faith and emotion that exist within us do follow the pattern of the emotions of God. But God is more than emotions, God is the infinitely deep spiritual agape love and relationships shared among the Three in One. In a number of ways the process of living a godly life is designed to make the believing heart aware of the Trinity. We are called to relate to God as a Father; the Son is the one who saves and protects us. The Father sent Jesus Christ from Heaven to earth. After the departure of Jesus Christ to Heaven, He sent another comforter who would be in believers. Those first two persons, in a real sense, are external to the life, consciousness, faith and emotion of the believer. The third member of the Trinity is the one who emphasizes God’s acceptance: God’s change agent for the inner life. Far more so than any other member of the Trinity, the ministry of the Spirit of God is uniquely connected to the emotional life of the believer.
It is the Spirit who directly influences our inner life. Jesus, outside a believer is not as effective as the Spirit of God inside a believer. This one conforms those who have trusted Christ to the character of Christ. Such character has a richly emotional component.
It is fascinating that not only does the Spirit of God address our inner life with its never ending stream of emotions, the Holy Spirit’s experience within us is deeply emotional, setting the heart free. Not only is the work of the Spirit emotional; the New Testament emphasizes His faith and emotion. One can see by various portions in the New Testament that His existence among us involves deep responses. This is indicated by His personal reactions. As He listens to our prayers the pain is so intense for the Spirit of God that He is reduced to voiceless pain. This again is the Passion of the Spirit of God. With great emotion, He who is God is among us, suffering because of us.
Faith and emotion are important to believers. The work of the Spirit of God is deeply emotional. Since those realities are so, they carry weighty implications for how Christians should live out their faith.