Loving God Isn’t a Feeling Either

Heart throbs and happiness.

Poetry and primroses.

This is our ideal of love, isn’t it? Walking on clouds, glowing with adoration, swelling with happiness. Knowing that you have finally found “the one” and that you will soon be starting your happily ever after….

But we know deep down that true love is made of sturdier stuff than that (see 1 Corinthians 13). That love can’t survive on a steady diet of feelings.

So why do we often forget that the same is true for our love for God?

C.S. Lewis once observed, “[People] are told they ought to love God. They cannot find any such feeling in themselves. What are they to do?”

And it’s true. Preachers, teachers, and Christian bloggers tend to get swept up in surges of emotion. Bible studies grow as people hear about the poignant stirring of hearts. At retreats, people are hugging and crying, overwhelmed by a newly strengthened love for the Lord.

While the people who aren’t feeling it cower in the corner, hoping no one notices their dry eyes and logical notes. They wonder if their love for God is real at all.

Or, as the moment of emotion fades, those who felt it wonder if they’ve now lost their love for God forever. Or if they had ever had it at all.

Basing love for God on a feeling can be just as detrimental as it is in our human relationships. Maybe more. We know that emotion doesn’t last, even spiritual emotion, and when it goes, we are often left feeling empty and disconnected from God.

That’s why Jesus showed us the sturdier stuff of our worshipful love of Him. He said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Then He says it again a few verses later: “If anyone loves me, He will keep my word” (John 14:23).

Our call as believers is to love God by trusting and following Him, even when the emotion just isn’t there.

Our call is to follow God, even when the emotion isn't there. Click To Tweet

As C.S. Lewis said in answer to his own question about when we can’t muster up a feeling of love for God: “Act as if you did. Do not sit trying to manufacture feelings.”

No matter how we are feeling, we have to know that God’s care for us is real. We have to trust that His way is best, always. And we have to keep living that out in a conscious choice of love.

And oftentimes, the emotion will come. It’s hard to walk long in the presence of the Lord without feeling overwhelmed by joy at His goodness. As the psalmist said in Psalm 16:11, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

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