Our mind is shaped by a culture that privileges experience and feeling above all other windows into reality.
We no longer even say, with the writers of love songs, ‘It feels so good it must be real’. We are content if it simply feels good, with no further questions asked.
Though I grieve the loss of rationality in our culture—it feels ominously as though a page has been turned—in this too we are perhaps not so different from the ancients.
One of Jesus’ most trenchant parables has his followers assuming that they belong to him, for they have felt the frisson of hanging with him.
And someone said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” then he will answer you, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” But he will say, “I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!”‘ (Luke 13:23–27 ESV)
They had not understood that the feeling meant almost nothing.
They imagined they knew him. It was neither mutual nor real. It was just a feeling.
The apparent experience of friendship was not a window into reality. It was just an experience, subject to multiple interpretations. Theirs was the wrong one.
They were not the friends of ‘the master’. They were, in the parable, ‘workers of evil’.
Jesus’ words must have stunned them, then hurt them very deeply as the numbness wore off.
I feel it even now, in my own stunned flesh, my numbness too beginning to wane.
Jesus, help us know you for real.