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Emotions and the Imago Dei

Our emotions can be troublesome leading us down paths we later regret, but should we attempt to escape them? Or can they be redeemed by God for a good purpose?

Note: This blog post is based on last week’s reading: 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Song of Solomon

Our Emotions and God's Image

One theme that links the two letters of Paul (2 Corinthians and Galatians) and the Song of Solomon, is the theme of human emotions.  God created mankind in His own image and endued us with emotions. Our souls certainly have wills and thoughts, too, but emotions are very much a part of what makes us human and what reflects God’s image in us.

Emotions in the Song of Solomon

This is clear as the Song of Solomon poetically highlights the love of a man and a woman.  You may choose to interpret the poem as an allegory of Christ and the Church or God and Israel (as has been traditional), but, even so, the presence of irresistible attraction between the two parties throbs through every stanza.  They love each other.  They desire each other and suffer anguish when separated.  Nothing and no one else can replace the beloved.  They want to be together and they will do anything to be together.  Their union brings complete joy and fulfillment.

The Bride of Christ

So is the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).  When Scripture compares human marriage to the relationship between Christ and the Church, it is not demeaning the latter relationship but ennobling the former.  For those in a good marriage it is easy to appreciate the concept of Christ loving the Church because it is explained in terms we have experienced. We understand that the human relationship, although wonderful, is a pale reflection of the eternal, spiritual one to which it is compared.

On the other hand, single believers can rest assured that, even if they never marry in this life, there awaits them a life in glory of eternal joy and satisfaction far better than anything anyone experiences in human marriage. You, as a single who knows the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Bridegroom, are joined to Christ in an eternal bond.  In glory, you will know that you have missed nothing.

The Bride Endangered

Paul pours out his emotions in his letters to the Corinthians and the Galatians reminding us that the church in this age is still not fully sanctified.  There were problems—serious problems.  The Apostle shows the tender heart of God toward these congregations.  He longs for them to know 

the truth  and to flee the deception of false teachers.  He feels “a divine jealousy” for the Corinthians because he brought them to Christ to be His alone but some of them are in danger of going down the serpent’s deceptive path just as Eve did so long ago. If that happens, their “thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2-3 ESV).  He pleads with them to heed his warning.

To the Galatians, Paul also expresses a wide range of emotions in response to their veering off course through the influence of false teachers toward another “gospel” that taught law keeping as a means to be justified before God.  He is astonished (Galatians 1:6) and in anguish for them.  He considers that their former love for him and willingness to suffer for him has now turned to enmity which perplexes him.  [See Galatians 4:12-20].

Good marriages and the hearts of every godly pastor and elder reflect the Lord's love for His people.  There is an emotional bond. God loved the world and sent His Son (John 3:16).  It was not some cold, unfeeling judicial act of God. Through Christ, God showed His longing to redeem people for Himself—for our good and His glory.

Emotions--to escape or embrace?

What can we conclude about our emotions?  Should we try to bury them or escape them?  No.  It is right that we accept our emotions as part of our God-given human personalities. But as fallen creatures, we need to recognize that our emotions are not free from sin.  They need the control of God's Spirit.  We can and should let our emotional lives reflect the Imago Dei—the image of God in us.

Let the married seek to nurture and reflect the love bond between Christ and His Church.  Spiritual leaders must pray for and seek to love God’s people as He does—watching out for their souls.  For those who are single, rejoice in the promised marriage supper of the Lamb and the eternal state of bliss that await all who are His (Revelation 19:6-10).

This week’s reading: 2 Samuel 

© John A Carroll 2018 Used by permission.

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