At a recent young adult conference, singer Tauren Wells spoke to the "fake faith" culture in churches that leads to Christians suppressing their feelings.
Speaking at Remnant Conference 2020, hosted last week by Deeper Fellowship Church in Orlando and streamed online due to the nationwide restrictions on large gatherings, Wells addressed the stigma against expressing one’s feelings in church.
"I grew up in church and I went to a lot of church stuff, a lot of youth rallies, a lot of conferences, a lot of stuff that you could be involved in. It always seemed like there was this gap between what I believed about Jesus and how I felt,” he said to the thousands streaming the conference.
The Grammy-nominated artist explained that there was a separation between his faith and his feelings and that in order for him to “truly feel something,” he had to step out of his faith or lay down his feelings altogether.
“I want to come at that idea today that faith and feelings are categorically separated, that they are mutually exclusive, that they do not only coexist but that they work together to produce an inward holiness in us being made whole by God,” said Wells, who serves as a worship leader and speaker at Lakewood Church in Houston.
"We love this idea as Christians, we like to say things like this, ‘We elevate faith over feelings. We faith it, until we make it.’ We have these ideas as Christians, we really don't need to feel what's happening, we can just get in this place of God's presence and somehow forget about everything else. But I'm kind of coming for that idea today because I don't believe that the solution is just elevating faith over feelings or ‘faithing it’ until we make it, or we don't live by our feelings, we live by our faith.”
"Well, if I'm depressed but I still love Jesus, what do I do then?" he asked.
The father of three declared that he’s no less a Christian or follower of Jesus if he’s struggling with his feelings. The tension of ignoring or numbing what one is feeling within one's soul has too much dissonance for him.
"We believe in Jesus that He is able to save, He's able to heal, He's able to deliver and yes, all of those things are true. But does that mean that we no longer have permission to feel within the context of this human existence?" he posed.
"Do I act like the fear that I have around not providing for my family doesn't affect me? Do I act like the loss of those that I love no longer affects me because I've got this faith that's going to allow me to power through? Of course not!
"I don't think that that's what God intends for us at all. I actually believe that God built us with an emotional system so that we could process what's happening around us in the world, that our faith and our feelings are not enemies, but they are co-laborers working together to produce something greater within us.”
The Michigan native suggested that perhaps the answer people are looking for isn't coming from putting faith over feelings, or just trying to power one's way through it. He went on to share the revelation he received from God about what Christians should do with their feelings.
“What if we bring our faith into our feelings? What if we allow the redemptive work of Jesus’ blood and body on the cross to produce something greater within our feelings? What if our feelings are a doorway into God's presence and for God's presence to be introduced into our real lives?” he proposed.
“Jesus is not interested in just the 'church' you. Jesus is not just interested in the religious you. He's not just interested in who you are pretending to be. Jesus did not die for your image. He died for who you really are. So what He did on the cross is enough, not just for your sin, not just for your shame, but for your feelings.”
While one’s feelings may not have all of the information, they do have “some of the information,” Wells added. God can use your feelings as a “gateway into His glorious presence.”
“[O]n the other side of every feeling there is a redemptive quality being generated by the power of the Holy Spirit. On the other side of your heart, there is healing. And it is only when you recognize that you are in fact hurt, that you have been wounded, that you can anticipate healing from that wound," Wells said.
"Instead of trying to bury our wounds and cover our wounds and medicate the symptoms of our wounds, what if we went down to the core issue of the thing or this someone that hurt us so that healing can be introduced into the equations? Bring healing into the hurt and watch what God will do.”
The Church has a “great opportunity” if Christians would learn how to “access what we feel, instead of pretending that these things are not there and allow faith to come into our feelings," he stressed.
“We too could be moved by the plight, dysfunction and struggle of the people in the world around us so much so that we will be moved in our feelings to reach out and touch those who are not touched, to speak to those who are not spoken to, to provide for those who have no one to provide for them, to speak up for those who have no voice. But if we're going to do it, we're going to have to be able to feel it and if we're going to feel what they are feeling first, we must learn to feel what we are feeling and bring faith and the Gospel into it.”
The Remnant Conference is an annual conference geared toward young adults who "desire to be transformed by the presence of the Lord," according to the website.