Sabbath School TodayWith the Dynamic
Lesson 1: "Emotions" : The Bible and Human Emotions
Those who believe the dynamic of the 1888 message is the beginning of the latter rain which focuses our attention upon the ministry of Christ as our Divine Physician in the heavenly sanctuary, will immediately recognize the importance of this quarter's lessons on "The Bible and Human Emotions." There is no more practical application of the truth of Christ's High Priestly ministry than the healing power of the gospel in such a modern setting. The world is filled with Christians as well as heathen who are hurting. It's good to know that Christ is not on some holiday, but is working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to heal those who are emotionally damaged.
Most people do not associate their feelings as subjects of restoration in the . It is a simple matter of dismissing emotions such as anger, frustration, impatience, and sensitivity as exempt from change. But one's temperament is no insignificant aspect of the total person to be so lightly set aside as unaffected by "the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom. 1:16). "The God of peace" proposes to "sanctify you wholly; ... your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23). Hence, Christ has, as His specific objective in our cosmic , to get at the root cause of our damaged emotions and set about His gracious processes of healing.
The excuse that is given for negative emotions is that it's in our DNA, some defective inherited gene; or, it's a disease. "It's not my fault I have a bad temperament. I've got a disease." It's similar to the defense that alcoholism is a disease; or, destructive behavior or criminal activity is a disease. It is really a cop out for bad choices which result in weakness of character. Evil choices do trigger biological changes in the body so that what began as sinful unbelief and rebellion becomes a full-blown mental or emotional disease for which drugs become necessary for control. All this supports Proverbs 5:22: "His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden [held tight] with the cords of his sins." Or as Jesus says, "Whosoever committeth sin is the slave of sin" (John 8:34).
We have usually supposed that those statements have reference to people who are not church members, those who are "outside" who do not know the Lord as we know Him. I wonder if they could have meaning for us who are "inside" the church, even us who are workers? We may not know if there is any conscious sin or anxiety that troubles us; but could we suffer from some deep-seated anxiety or discontent that "breaks down the life forces" unconsciously? "Sickness of the mind prevails everywhere. Nine tenths of the diseases from which men suffer have their foundation here" (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 444). Jesus, "Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses" (Matt. 8:17). In some unexplainable way, Christ bore our mental weaknesses as well as our bodily illnesses.
The human mind captures a perfect record of every life's experience. The person may not be able to perfectly recall every minute event, but it is nevertheless all there awaiting the circumstance for its recall. We can explain this by an illustration from nature. If you visit the western United States, you will see the beautiful giant sequoia and redwood trees. In most of the parks the naturalists can show you a cross section of a great tree they have cut, and they will point out that the rings of the tree reveal the developmental history, year by year. Here's a ring that represents a year when there was a terrible drought. Here are a couple of rings from years when there was too much rain. Here's where the tree was struck by lightning. Here are some normal years of growth. This ring shows a forest fire that almost destroyed the tree. Here's another of savage blight and disease. All of this lies embedded in the heart of the tree, representing the autobiography of its growth.
That's the way it is with us. Just a few thin layers beneath the protective bark--the concealing, protective mask--are the recorded rings of our lives. There are scars of ancient, painful hurts. Here is the discoloration of a tragic stain that muddied all of life. And here we see the pressure of a painful, repressed memory.
It begins with the mind, and the bad things that happen over the course of time in our relationships get stuffed down deeper and deeper just in order to survive. It's like a volcano with its subterranean fires of molten lava burning and emitting toxic gases with nowhere to go except upward through small vents to the surface of the earth's crust. Frequently, given the right set of circumstances, the weakest fracture line becomes the point of explosion. So what we don't know and understand about ourselves can inevitably hurt us and others.
The good news of the 1888 message is the emphasis it lays upon the complete identification of Christ with our humanity. We have a Saviour who exhibits the full range of emotions common to the human race. If the perfect repentance of Christ on behalf of humanity means anything, it means that in His mind is recorded every little detail of all the individual lives which have entered into the world. He knows intimately the emotions of every soul that has ever lived.
Isaiah imposed on the monitor screens of the human race the horror of Christ's suffering which He endured for humanity, yet it was not mere senseless physical brutality that Isaiah described, not a pathetic, mindless flogging of a human body almost to pulp, but Isaiah portrays the infinite mental and emotional suffering of One who is a God-man. Isaiah's version has created the noblest music and poetry of the human race: "Behold, My Servant ... shall be extolled, and be very high. ... His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men: .. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him: ... He is ... a , and acquainted with grief: ... Surely He hath borne our griefs, ... He hath poured out His soul unto death [the Bible knows only the second]: ... and He bare the sin of many" (52:13-53:12).
Jesus had emotions. Jesus is human, and all human beings have feelings. Without emotions, we are stunted and shrunken. Some think of emotions expressed in tears and smiles and embraces as signs of weakness or as contradictions to intelligence. If that were so, then we would have to think of Jesus as weak and ignorant. On the contrary, because He was a fully human being, He showed how to feel and express emotions in a fully human way.
Jesus did not count it loss to take on human flesh, even to the sharing of our emotional experiences. He Himself did not seek to eradicate them but, in fact, bore them and used them in glorious perfection. He did so in the temperament, of humility and in perfect balance. In His example, a believer is not only persuaded of Jesus' humanity, and thus His ability to identify with human infirmities, but His life is the encouragement for a believer that the whole personality is to be redeemed and restored.
--Paul E. Penno
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