The other day I was standing in line at the Orange County Courthouse and Hall of Records with my new bride. We were waiting to pick up an official copy of our marriage certificate. After making a small mistake on our original application, it took the government a long time to correct it. So in the eyes of the Church we were hitched on November 3rd, but the state took 2 months to recognize us as husband and wife. I would make a joke here about “living in sin”, but that’s something else the State of California doesn’t readily recognize.
As we stood in line, a TV on the wall was tuned to a cable news network. They were covering the president and congress as they work on some new legislation. After reading a summary of the law over the air, the lead anchor looked up at the camera and said, “Yeah. That feels right.”
I don’t know if it was my fledgling understanding of the intricacies of married life or my consistent displeasure with our society’s over emphasis on “feelings”, but the words of the newsman struck a chord. “That feels right”??
He was commenting on new legislation, not a back massage. He was reading a new law. Feelings have nothing to do with it. A law is either right or wrong. Either it’s going to be best for the American people, or it’s not. It doesn’t matter how it feels. If it did, then what if someone wanted to break the new law – presumably because they felt like it?
If my wife and I based our nuptials completely on our feelings, we would have been divorced before California recognized us as married. We must base our marriage on commitment to Christ and to each other, enjoying the good feelings all along, so that when the feelings aren’t good, we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
As I’ve studied some of God’s commands this week (maybe that’s the reason why the news anchor’s phrase stuck out to me!), I think there is a truth here we struggle with in regards to God’s clear instructions for us.
God has given us commands. Laws, if you will. And many times – just like with marriage and our country’s laws – we don’t like the way they feel. And if we don’t like the way they feel, then we think they must not be right. But the most helpful thing to remember when we don’t feel good about a command God has given us is to remember this: God’s commands are for our joy.
If God were a painter, the colors would be his commands and the finished painting would be our joy. One stroke at a time, God is painting a picture we do not yet see, but when it is complete, our joy and his glory will be the product.
Jesus, after teaching his disciples that remaining in his love was possible through obedience to his commandments, Jesus said, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11 NLT) If we really loved God and neighbor as Jesus commands, we’d have no need for any of the other commandments. We would give love and we would feel love.
God cares about our feelings. In fact, according to John 15, he gives us instruction so that our feelings of joy will overflow. But unlike society, God says that doing right is the gateway to feeling right. Our culture says just the opposite. But if that were the case – if feeling right was the guide to doing right – then how do you think laws and marriages would work out? Mmm hmm. Not so great, huh.
Just something to think about the next time you get a little miffed by one of God’s commandments.
Remember – he’s looking out for you. He loves you. His commandments are not against you, they’re for you. God is not interested in giving you a joyless, dull, and restricted life. He’s only interested in giving you the best and the fullest. (John 10:10) So he gives you commands to do just that.