The Heart of the Issue
Sermon by: Harrison Chokka
Summarized by: Stefani Lisk
Our vision as a church for this year is “Deeper”. The deepening of our relationship with Jesus hinges on being emotionally healthy - we can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature, and it’s in the understanding of ourselves and who we are, that will allow us to go deeper with God. This week, we began our brand-new series, Untangling Emotions, in James 4:1-3, looking at The Heart of the Issue as the beginning of a deep dive into our feelings.
How many of us actually know what is going on deep down inside of ourselves? Why are you so upset when a friend cancels plans? Or why do you feel like you are ready to meltdown when you receive a critique? Most of the time, our outer reactions reflect something deeper inside of us. Our outer emotions can result from a collection of deep-seated experiences, pain, rejection, and sadness. But for some of us, we just don’t have the emotional maturity to understand what is going on and why we react the way that we do.
We all experience conflict in life. Some of us may even feel like we are in constant battle and opposition with those in our life. The rhetoric of “My husband is so lazy”, “My boss is a jerk” and “All my friend cares about is herself” can play as a loop in our minds and trap us into fights and disagreements with our "opponent". In these moments, we want nothing more than for our feelings and emotions to be validated. We want our best friend to agree that my husband should do more, or have our co-worker fuel the fire about my jerk boss. But the bible doesn’t place the blame with others in our life.
The Problem is Me. We tend to instinctually look outwards to lay blame for the problems and conflict we face. Quite frankly, that can feel easier than sorting through the pain, anger and frustration deep within. But the problem in conflict is not your friend, boss, husband or the guy that cut you off in traffic, it’s you and it’s me. When you take the time to analyze the conflict you encounter, you will notice what a powerful barometer it is in helping us understand our feelings and where they are coming from. Conflict is a great revealer of what is going on inside of our hearts.
Okay, well that’s great. The problem is me…so what am I feeling so deeply that causes me to be so reactive? The root of it is that you didn’t get what YOU wanted. You think your husband is lazy because YOU wanted him to do the dishes, you think your boss is a jerk because YOU wanted that promotion you felt you deserved, you think your friend is self-absorbed because YOU are hurt that she always cancels plans. You are feeling the frustration, hurt and rejection of not getting something that you desire, and what can be more crippling is the reality that you might never get what you want. I have good news though…if you lean into the understanding that I can’t fix other people, but I can work on me, you will be released from the weight that comes with blaming others. We will never be healthy if we buy that lie that it’s someone else’s fault.
That is not to take away from the pain and hurt you have experienced in your life. Those experiences are real and the emotion that you feel because of it is very much a reality in your life. You may not be responsible for what has happened to you, but it’s your responsibility to heal, and you will find freedom when you begin to understand that.
Conflict can stir because of your past experiences and feelings, but to sit in the well of believing this is “who you are” and there is nothing you can do about it, is a lie. Healing doesn’t mean buying the lie that you are just a pessimistic person who only sees the worst in people and flipping the blame game script on yourself. That’s your defense mechanism used to protect yourself. It’s one thing for someone to hurt you when your defenses are up and you haven’t been vulnerable, but it can be more painful when you have let down your walls and have been disappointed. But the heart of Jesus is transformation. Jesus wants to heal our deep wounds and give us a new heart, so that we can be who God created us to be, in his image, without fear.
I don’t want this conflict in my life anymore, so all I have to do is ask God for a new heart? Well…are you asking for the right things? The truth is, most of the time we don’t know what we want, because we don’t really understand ourselves. I need to understand ME. The crux of this series is how we can better understand ourselves. As a first step, here are three emotional categories to take a look at where you might land.
1.Spit it up – Emotions are everything. You are someone that feels a lot and feels everything. You are constantly riding the wave of emotions, and whatever you feel you act on.
2.Suck it up – Emotions are nothing. Suppress everything. Anything you are feeling, you bury deep in a hole and ignore it. No bad days can be had over here.
3.Engage – What am I feeling, why am I feeling this way. Our emotions are a compass.
God wants us to engage with our emotions. He has gifted us with all these feelings and so that means they are not to be ignored. We all have emotional health problems, and so how can we start to open up to who God wants us to be and what he wants us to do?
Surrounding yourself only with people that tell you what you want to hear will not set you on the road to heart transformation. Check your crew. We can get a lot of bad advice from the wrong people. Find people that can speak life into you and your emotions, and you will begin to see change in your life and relationships.
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