Knowing God vs. Knowing Experience

When we enter Christianity, experiencing and emotions are an inescapable reality. One the giants of the Christian faith was a man named John Wesley. In the middle of his life while he was an Anglican minister, his heart was “strangely warmed” by the Spirit of God while listening to Martin Luther’s comments on Romans. The experience was named the Aldersgate experience after the place that Wesley experienced this.

Wesley, however, knew that experience was not the core of the Christian experience. It was a bigger reality founded in Christ. Experience and emotions can lead to devastating affects (just read about Jim Jones or the actions by Westboro Baptist Church). Emotions are unstable things that can lead to euphoria of religiosity, which is a false, shallow understanding of the Faith, or to a dark and fearful relationship, which is not love towards God, but a fear of hell, which gets no one any closer to Heaven.

An instruction on how to deal with overpowering experiences and emotions is in Revelation, where we see the record of a Church that was suffering tribulation under the Empire of Rome and the Jewish people around them. They were a young outcast group subjected to violence or at least barred from participating in society, which would have led to struggles in survival. Throughout the book, they are encouraged to stay strong and not give in. This is despite the experience and emotions connected to a desire to survive, which is a very high level of emotion and desire. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs would consider it one of the highest.

The point is that the relationship with God is very important. We are not discussing a simple verbal acknowledgement of relationship, but the type that is defined by love. Love, in the Scriptures looks very different than today. We may see it as a warm, fuzzy feeling when talking about God, but the Bible uses the words which originally were used to describe loyalty. Loyalty has to be a major drive in our love for God. If we give that up, we have lost what it means to be saved and have lost a proper response to the Gospel also.

You should ask yourself a few questions: What drives my faith, participating in something bigger than me or making this about me? Is my love like high school puppy love that is done next semester or more like love of a mighty king and his servants? Am I going to seek the emotions and the spiritual high of good experience or seek to know God who is my Lord?