Summary: Are you a little proud you attend church? Do you feel a little superior to those folks who sleep in or are out on the lake? There is no room for spiritual pride in grace, because in grace, it’s all about boasting in God not in our goodness.
If you were around in 1975 you might remember the one-hit wonder “Feelings,” by Morris Albert “Feelings, nothing more than feelings; / Trying to forget my feelings of love; / Feelings, whoa, whoa, whoa feelings…” This is the sappiest song I’ve ever heard. It was never was one of my favorites, frankly. Sadly, there are some people whose faith can be described by the first line, “Feelings, nothing more than feelings.” There ARE feelings in the Christian life, but there is “something more than feelings” and that something more is God’s amazing grace.
This is the third message in a series entitled, “Beware of Grace-Robbers.” During the previous two messages we examined how legalism can rob us of the powerful impact of grace. This message is about the danger of building your spiritual life on the shifting sands of feeling rather than on the rock solid foundation of God’s grace.
As we examine the scriptures, let’s review the purpose for which the Apostle Paul wrote this letter. In Colossians 1:6 we read, “This gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” That’s the purpose of this Grace-Robbers series: that we can understand God’s grace in all its truth. When you begin to understand the awesome power of grace, you will be able to defend yourself against the threat of any grace-robber.
Colossians 2:18-19. “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.”
Instead of “Feelings,” my choice for a good song to describe our faith is one written by Bono and performed by the Irish rock group U2. The song is simply named, “Grace.” The lyrics say: “Grace, it’s the name for a girl / It’s also a thought that changed the world / And when she walks on the street / You can hear the strings / Grace finds goodness in everything.” In his book entitled, Bono, the U2 lead singer elaborates, “The thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Karma and Grace. You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Karma is at the very heart of the Universe. And yet, along comes this idea of Grace to upend all that ‘you-can-earn-it stuff.’ Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.”
That’s good news for all of us, because we’ve all done stupid stuff and we desperately need God’s grace. In this passage of scripture we find both a warning and an encouragement.
I. THE WARNING: DON’T LET RELIGIOUS FEELINGS ROB YOU OF GOD’S GRACE
I must emphasize at the start the Bible doesn’t teach that the Christian life is a dull, stoic, cerebral experience devoid of feeling. There ARE times when we express exuberant feelings about our exciting relationship with God. The Bible speaks of us having “inexpressible and glorious joy.” (I Peter 1:8) King David got so revved up once, the Bible says “he danced before the Lord with all his might.” (II Samuel 6:14) He had a happy heart that led to happy feet! In Acts 3, a lame man is healed and he was so overjoyed he went into the temple “walking and jumping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8) I know that feeling, don’t you? There have been hundreds of times in my Christian walk when I have been so overcome with emotion and feelings I wanted to shout, jump, and dance. Feelings are real! The danger arises when you start seeking a feeling instead of seeking the Lord.
I’m sure you’ve heard the story of Jonah and the whale. God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach, and he ran away from God. Jonah soon learned you can run from God, but you can’t hide. Jonah was tossed overboard during a storm and ended up in the belly of a fish. I saw a cartoon not long ago depicting a very wet Jonah standing on the beach after the fish regurgitated him. Jonah had a cell phone to his ear saying, “Yes, God I can hear you now.” Isn’t it sad some of us are so hard-headed God has to send adversity into our lives before we start listening to His voice?