Commentary: Following Jesus is more faith than feeling


I don’t always feel like following Jesus. So, am I supposed to fake the feeling?

When my present circumstances don’t look so good, and the news tells me the world’s a mess, am I faking it to keep a positive attitude and working toward positive goals?

Or am I declaring war on the dark side and all the negative voices trying to keep me down? The voices tell me: “Nothing can be done,” “It’s impossible,” “Don’t even try,” “The darkness has won.”

Following Jesus can feel like faking it, but it’s based on the truth of our new life in Christ.

Negative vs. positive

Negativity and fear are everywhere. They’re all around us. They’re on every newscaster’s lips. Fear is the coinage of the day. People live in a constant state of stress and fear, but I am determined to be positive in this negative, problem-filled world.

Some say it’s not realistic to focus on the positive when our present society seems like one big hellhole. It’s like sticking our heads in the sand and refusing to face the negative reality. But constantly reminding myself and others of every lousy, wrong thing in our lives and rubbing our noses in it won’t remedy anything.

I’m not hiding under my blankets, wishing when I wake up all will be well. I acknowledge the problems are here, and something needs to be done. But I’m making a positive declaration to focus on the positive and on solutions instead of all the negativity and problems.

Everyone has their own choices to make in life, but wouldn’t it be easier for people to choose to live positive, compassionate, victorious lives if they saw others—you and I—living above the stifling, suffocating negative smog as examples of the positive truths we say we believe?

The world is waiting for enthusiastic, positively charged true followers of Jesus to take the world’s stage and bring light to the darkened landscape.

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Calling vs. feeling

My calling, like yours, is to be an instrument of God’s love on Earth. That’s it. Everything we do should be to this end—to embody God’s Spirit on Earth as it is in heaven. God is calling us to be positive, because his Spirit is positive, life-giving, encouraging, uplifting, healing, joyful, loving and transformative.

But you think, “I’m a bummer, because I read all these wonderful words of Jesus, but I don’t feel like doing them.”

Maybe you don’t feel positive or loving. Maybe you feel like a hypocrite for doing things you don’t feel like doing. Jesus’ words are the true, real you God wants you to embody on Earth, even when you don’t feel like it.

Don’t you think Jesus had days when he didn’t feel 100 percent, when he was tired from walking or didn’t get enough sleep? Don’t you think even Jesus had times when his flesh didn’t feel like healing the multitudes, when he would rather have gone somewhere to rest?

Living by faith

Everything Jesus did—and everything we do to manifest his love—is by faith. We don’t have to feel anything.

We don’t have to feel compassion to be compassionate. We don’t have to feel like loving our mate to help wash the dishes or feel like helping our children with their homework to help them. We don’t have to feel faith to have faith. We don’t have to feel like doing what’s right to do it.

Every day, a great deal of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel like doing it. It’s all by faith for us from now on. You praise and thank God by faith. You listen for his voice by faith. You pray by faith. You believe by faith.

We don’t measure what is true or false by how we feel. Our feelings and thoughts need to be brought into line with what Jesus taught, not the other way around.

Believing I am a new person in Christ is an act of pure faith, because often I don’t feel positive, loving or Christlike, but I step into the new me by faith that God’s promises are the new me I want to be.

Do you see it? Align yourself, your thoughts and actions with the new you—Christ in you, our hope of glory.

Robert Ritzenhein, after retiring from full-time missionary service, lives in Japan, organizing Christian programs for area rest homes, and is the yearly Santa at his city’s hospitals. The views expressed in this opinion article are those of the author.

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