Testing Experiences

“We put so much stock in our own felt experience of the grace of God that we lose touch with the actual fact of the grace of God. It is not our feelings that save us. It is the facts and our faith therein. It is the ephemeral up-and-down nature of our feelings that tends to keep us in the land of vertigo.”
Jd Walt in today’s seedbed.com Wake Up Call

For Christians, it seems to me that personal felt experience alone is often questionable or at least should be questioned! Personal religious experiences have been held at a suspecting arm’s length and tested against long term impact on the individual and others by many traditional religious systems over the centuries. In fact, personal spiritual and religious experiences can be quite skewed and unhealthy, even unholy, luring people into confusion or worse…… like the dizzying, reeling, destabilizing impact of vertigo to which JD refers. Vertigo, for many who have experienced it, may come and go without warning and can quickly destabilize and debilitate, leaving one anxious and eager for answers and permanent solutions.

The Holy Spirit may also come and go seemingly without warning snd such changes can be destabilizing in the moment, but the longer term impact of the Holy Spirit will be a positive outcome of knowledge, understanding, wisdom, growth, stabilizing one’s security and significance in relationship to Christ, and strengthening the ability to move forward in faith to accomplish God’s will in one’s assigned station on the kingdom’s walls as they are being restored in the new Jerusalem!

It is possible to explore and evaluate personal emotional experiences that can arouse heights of joy but that can also plunge one into fear or confusion quickly. We do so against the experiences of many others that have had positive, edifying, growth-inspiring, functionally healing and stabilizing results over time and assessing the ways in which such emotional experiences are confirmed favorably in supportive community and against standards and principles that point one to the life experiences and teachings of Christ, his apostles, and healthy, growing, Christian disciple-making communities of faith.

Can we make sense of our emotional experiences as providing a growth-promoting, spiritually and functionally healing and stabilizing, community building, person-instructing, God-glorifying, self-and-other-edifying, gracious work of the Holy Spirit? If all it provides is a temporary self-affirming, feel-good, self-justifying, power trip that exalts or alienates one from others and creates discord within and without one’s self, then it is more often a pursuit of a heady desire that is competing with God’s desires for us (which God may well be allowing us to explore to teach us how to discern the difference), a delusion, a deception, or a luring demonic enticement to a counterfeit emotional response to the world’s pleasures instead of true intimacy with God.