As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. Matthew 13:20-21
In the shame of my drug use, I turned from God. Still, I had moments when I wanted to change, so I’d pray, but God felt so distant. I needed to know God was there. I needed to feel him. The only time I got any feeling was on Sunday morning, during the singing, which triggered some emotional response in me. Was that God? Or was that just the music, mood, and lighting?
In treatment, there were those who had an intense emotional response to worship music. These were hardcore addicts and criminals, but there, in a Christian chemical dependent treatment facility, they were down front, singing and dancing wildly. I was skeptical. The intense emotional experience seemed like just another high.
It’s probably unfair to lump together everyone who had an intense emotional response, but the ones I knew, either relapsed during treatment, or soon thereafter. In church, they were intensely invested, but when they left the sanctuary, the emotion faded, and their mood changed. They then turned to whatever feeling or appetite drove them next.
In today’s passage, Jesus describes the one who is all emotion. Continuing in his parable of the sower and the seeds, Jesus says this individual receives his word with intense joy, but he has no depth, root, or substance, and so, when challenged, he abandons God and turns to the next thing. He is all impulse, desire, and emotion, and thus, will never really be able to stick to faith or recovery.
It’s not that emotion is bad. King David, a man after God’s own heart, danced half-naked in the streets (2 Samuel 6:14). Emotion can be an intensely real part of our worship, but when all we have is emotion, we’re controlled by it. When the emotion changes, so does the direction of our lives.
Maturity means learning to interrogate our emotions. Is this emotional response appropriate? Should I follow it? The truth is that some emotions will lead us astray. If we want faith and recovery, we cannot blindly follow every feeling. If we want to know faith and recovery, we must daily learn to identify and abandon those things that would lead us to destruction.