I was at a restaurant eating lunch with a man, a layman in his church, and as it inevitably happens when you talk to a pastor, the conversation turned to matters pertaining to his church.
I asked him how things were going, and he began to be a little down in the mouth. And it was interesting – he didn’t have any solid complaints. There was nothing he could say about this or that person doing something that was wrong. There were no specific offenses. The church was not in terrible decline. The teaching and preaching were good. There was no heresy or widespread moral decay. He just felt – well, “un-enthused” I guess is the best way to say it. He confessed that he used to be excited about the work, but now he just didn’t care.
Then he turned and said he just didn’t know what to do about it. And he asked me frankly, “What am I supposed to do about this? I just don’t feel about the church the way I used to.”
Before I give you the answer I gave him, I want you to think on it for a moment. What should you do in such a case?
First be aware that it is right here that so many wrong decisions are made. The tendency is to make decisions based on feeling and to act accordingly. It is such a sinister tendency – we act according to how we feel because that’s what feels good! I’ve seen people justify adultery by this same measure – “But I love her!” “But I love him!” But of course feeling is no sure measure of what is right, especially given that these feelings lie in fallen hearts. This is why God has given us his law – to inform our conscience by showing us objectively what is right and wrong.
And in this case of the man un-enthused about his church, if he responds to the situation according to feeling, he will simply fade away and perhaps leave not only that church but church altogether and end up with a huge question mark over his profession of faith.
Okay, how do you answer him? What should he do about his lack of heart for Christ’s church? There is only one answer: “You have only one option: you must repent of it. You must go home and get alone with God, repent of this dull heart toward that which is the object of his passion, and ask him to restore your heart to godly ‘feelings.’”
Our feelings are not a measure of right and wrong. But they do indicate the condition of our heart. As this case illustrates, indifference concerning that which is the object of God’s deepest love is surely a shameful manifestation of a fallen heart.
Only as we will look at our “feelings” this way will we bring honor to God in the decisions we make.
Pastor Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012). In addition Fred is the editor of Books At A Glance.
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