Needs and feelings
Needs and feelings are two of the most popular words in the world. They sum up the self-centered bent that many people are on. People are so focused on their perceived earthly needs that they have lost sight of their greater needs – the spiritual ones – as well as the needs of others. This is nothing new. This has been a central part of the value system of the world from the entrance of sin into it. When Eve had her conversation with the serpent in the garden of Eden, that was a main part of his appeal to her (Gen 3:1-7). According to the claim of the serpent, the forbidden fruit would make Eve be able to judge good and evil on her own without God, thus in effect making her her own god. When Eve considered the fruit, she saw that it was “good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise”. These are all appeals to “meeting needs”. The Bible records the devastating results of her and Adam’s indulgence in this value system which we all experience every day. This became the system upon which the world operates.
After the worldwide flood, God told the survivors to replenish the earth (Gen 9:1). Instead, they gathered together into one place with the motive of building a kingdom, a means of salvation, and a name for themselves without God (Gen 11:1-9). This place was called Babel or Babylon. This system was a manifestation of the value system man chose to live by without God. We see the continued manifestation of the spirit of Babylon as described in Jeremiah and Daniel, and ultimately in Revelation 17. It is a self-centered, materialistic approach to living without God in direct opposition to Him. It is short-sighted. 2Peter 1:1-8 describes the abundant life of a Christian who builds his life on the values of God. Then verse 9 says, “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins”. The phrase “cannot see afar off” is translated from the Greek word myōpazō which is where we get the word myopia – the word for near-sightedness. The ”my earthly needs” view neglects to look outside its own little selfish world. This so perverts the heart that even seemingly selfless deeds are done with a selfish motive. This has so permeated the world that it even affects Christians. Jesus warned of this repeatedly, and rather thoroughly in Matthew 6 which He sums up with, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (vs 33)”. Another aspect of what Jesus was talking about is that we think we know what our needs are, but only God truly knows. Often what people call needs are really just wants or lusts.
When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he used the same tactics he used on Eve (Mt 4:1-11). He tried to use the appeal to satisfy “needs” instead of obedience to the word of God. Make these stones bread to satisfy your hunger. Jump off the temple and satisfy your ego. Look at the kingdoms of the world and satisfy your eyes. Jesus rejected the devil’s attempts at corrupting his values by quoting the values of the scriptures, saying “It is written”. John spoke of these three false worldly values in 1John 2:15-17. He spoke of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and said they all pass away. The only eternal values are found in the word of God.
Many people seek after God initially because of needs, whether they are emotional, relational, or material. If circumstances drive someone toward God, then it is good they are moving toward God. The Lord told Israel He would use these means to draw them back to Himself when they backslid (Lev 26, Deut 28, 1Ki 8, 2Chr 6). However, if this is the means by which we begin to seek God, there has to come a time when the basis of doing such shifts to relationship with Him and the spiritual things of His kingdom. Otherwise we never become the Christians we are supposed to be, and we are just continuing to live by the values of the world. This is why many people who start a journey with God quit.
Another aspect of the values of the world is living by feelings instead of by truth. When people are more concerned about how they feel than how they are, they are in trouble. This is what is behind the LGBTQ movement. It is an attempt to feel good about themselves rather than to do good. They have given up trying to do good according to the Bible, and instead try to justify their sin so they can “feel good” about themselves. They are so focused and determined that they are now demanding that not only should others refrain from asserting that what the Bible calls sin is indeed sin, now they are demanding that everyone approve of their behavioral choices. They say that to do anything else is hatred, a crime, and an act of violence. It has gone so far to the extreme that now they are removing the definitions of marriage and gender so they can be “free” from feeling bad about themselves. There are even religious movements that have given themselves over to perverting the scriptures to justify themselves instead of God. This is not a surprise, although it is horrible. This has been going on since the garden of Eden, and Jesus and the apostles warned of it. This is a vicious self-deception that can only lead to more destructive outcomes (Rom 1:18-32). That is why the suicide rate is still so high among them despite dramatically increased societal approval. We cannot circumvent the word of God. Truth is eternal, immutable, and immaterial. It is absolute. We can deceive ourselves, but we cannot change the truth. The fact that these people are living by emotion rather than truth is sometimes exhibited by their behavior when confronted with simple and basic facts which contradict their profession. They become extremely emotional and do not respond with logic. They yell and say hateful and judgmental things in hypocritical ad hominem attacks and act out what is really in their hearts. Their self-hatred and condemnation comes to the surface.
Christians are not called to be haters, but neither are they required to embrace the “values” of “needs and feelings”. God wants to save all people and forgive all sin. There is hope in faith, repentance, and obedience to the scriptures. However, too many Christians are also living by feelings instead of truth. They believe Jesus is the Savior, but when it comes to societal issues, they follow their feelings instead of truth. When it comes to elections, they vote with their feelings or some other criteria which are not based in scripture such as “race” or gender. They respond to circumstances with feelings instead of faith and truth. Paul charged Timothy to preach the word because there was coming a time when people would “not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2Tim 4:3-4)”. That time is now. Some people just want superficial fluff that makes them feel good about themselves but does not force them to confront their issues and change. Often truth is uncomfortable. It actually makes us feel bad so we can do better. God is much more concerned with how we are and how we do than how we feel, especially if our feelings are not aligned with the truth of His word. Emotions are part of who are. We are made in the image and likeness of God who has emotions (Gen 1:27). God gets angry and has joy, grief, compassion, etc. However, His emotions are governed by His principles. Ours must be as well. Christians are called to the kingdom of God and truth.