Aided by modern psychology and science, the emotions of people have been reduced to nothing more than a few chemicals that are swirling around in the brain. It is a mindset that many of chosen to adopt outright with little discernment. Unfortunately, such a mentality has extreme consequences that often go unconsidered. For many, there is a great desire to accept these notions because it means that emotions can be defined, controlled, and rationalized, yet it also means that responsibility, meaning, and goodness of emotions are all taken away. As people who are informed by a biblical worldview, such conclusions and consequences remind us of the need to be cautious about which claims we accept by placing a priority of Scriptural thinking over secular thinking. In discussing this last week (in an article you can read by clicking here) we were left with one question then: As Christians, what do we need to do?
Quite simply, we need to be rational according to a biblically informed worldview. That means we must be rightly informed biblically, rightfully informed scientifically, and rightly informed worldly. First, all things must start with the Scripture. Everything else we say, do, or know, must be defined by the absolute truth that comes from our source of truth. Therefore, if we are not first informed by God’s truth, then everything else breaks down. From there, we must have accurate understanding and knowledge scientifically. Unfortunately, much of the ‘scientific research’ performed today is flawed because it lacks an appropriate worldview, and thus lacks a solid foundation. However, when we we combine science with what we know from Scripture, we are better equipped to handle and respond to propositions that are made. Finally, we must have an understanding of how the world functions. For example, knowing what we do from Scripture and that each person is flawed, we recognize then that the world itself is flawed. It compels us then to be more discerning about the conclusions that are made.
Earlier it was noted that people are quick to accept the secular worldview because it gives the appearance that people can both rationalize their emotions and control them, both of which allow them to deny responsibility for any of their ‘emotional’ responses. However, when we have the priority of information established and are rightly informed by it three things important things happen:
We Can Understand Emotions: Scripture is not silent about emotions. First, we have a God who expresses, joy, sorrow, and anger to simply name a few. During this earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ was a human example of emotions conveyed with holiness. The Scripture explains emotions, compels them when they are grounded in the Lord (think of Paul’s letter to the Philippians and the constant exhortation to rejoice), and condemns them when they are motivated by selfish desires (see the letter of James). Therefore, it can be said that we can ultimately understand our emotions.
We Can Exercise Control of Emotions: Rightly understood emotions can be rightly controlled. This is because the Bible informs us of where are emotions reside, what motivates them, and points us to the greatest motivation of all: God through Christ. When all is filtered through those motivations first, then the response becomes less about us and more about him and thus more under control. This is especially true for believers when we recognize that we have the aide of the Holy Spirit in our lives to help us maintain control.
We Can Enjoy Emotions: Finally, when we have an understand of emotions, seeing them both as a gift from God and motivated by him, they can be enjoyed. They can be enjoyed because we can control them according to the purposes that God intended.
While the world then looks to the secular reasoning behind emotions and accepts them because they see it as an option for understanding and control, the reality is, a biblically informed worldview can meet those same standards.
So when it comes to looking at the emotions we have, we have two options: to view them secularly and lose control or look at them through a biblical lens so that they may be enjoyed and utilized rightly. Interestingly, the Bible is able to deliver on what the world promises.
Photo “Trust No Emotion” courtesy of user Jeremy Brooks and Flickr.