VON STEINMAN: Feeling close to God – Journal Advocate


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Isn’t it great that God chose you? He wants you to accept his free gift of salvation. There is nothing better than being His child.

We had a powerful reminder last week about what a blessing that is. This week lets think about those feelings we have.

We all love to feel close to someone or feel like we “feel God.” How does that work? Does it work at all?

Rev. Stiegemeyer has a great article just about that. Let’s see what he has to say about God’s powerful word in our lives and God in our lives.

In the Fishbowl

Monica von Steinmen

Do You Follow Your Head or Your Heart?

By Scott Stiegemeyer

Can You Trust Your Heart?

The answer is: Not very much.

Jane Austen had this figured out in Sense and Sensibility. Are you going to follow your heart (sense) or your head (sensibility)? Maybe yes, maybe no. But “follow your heart” is often poor advice. And in the matter of the Christian faith, it’s downright dangerous.

The heart is fickle; not only that, but it’s also often just plain wrong (Jeremiah 17:9). And in terms of your relationship with the Lord, your heart is not a good guide to rely upon. My concern right now is the role we often give to the heart for assurance in our rightness with God. Here consider when people look inside themselves to gauge their spiritual health: “I feel really close to the Lord;” “I can sense (or not sense) the Lord’s presence right now;” or “I don’t feel like God loves me anymore.” Feelings are an important part of being human and I’m not saying it’s good to be unfeeling in spiritual things. I’m talking about basing your confidence on how you feel.

The Bible give us wise guidance on this. It says in 1 John 3: 20, “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”

No matter what your heart says, God’s knows better. You have been acquitted of your sins. It is an objective fact, whatever your heart may say to you at a given moment. We don’t have to overcorrect and become entirely anti-heart.

Sometimes, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, your heart will line up with the sure promises of God’s Word. You are forgiven! That is wonderful news and it can uplift you considerably as you ponder that in your heart. But the certainty of your forgiveness is not based on that; the certainty is based on God’s declaration of absolution because of Jesus Christ for you. Things like peace and joy are fruit of the Spirit, that is, they are the results of being acquitted. But if those feelings wax or wane, that does not mean your right standing with God is waxing and waning. So, when you doubt God’s love for you or doubt whether you are truly saved, do not look inside yourself for assurances. Look to the Gospel. Listen to the sermon as your pastor (hopefully) preaches the good news of free salvation through Christ. Recall that you have been joined to Christ’s death and resurrection in your baptism (Romans 6). Look to the promise, “given for you” and “shed for you” in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Take your body’s temperature to confirm whether you have an infection. That’s pretty reliable. But do not take your spiritual temperature (Am I hot or cold?) to see if you are reconciled to God. Go to the Divine Word and there you will find unshakable assurances.

Sometimes people dwell too much in their heads (rationalism) and sometime too much in their hearts (romanticism). Even a broken clock is right twice a day and I’m not saying we should be heartless. But our culture frequently places way too much emphasis on heart (subjective) when God’s objective promises in Christ are our firm foundation.

As we continue, let me say that camDown is easy to use, easy to maintain!