We’ve all been there…we come into corporate worship needing our weekend “escape from reality” and when we don’t get the “goosies” we were expecting, we conclude that the band didn’t “bring it” like they did last week or that the worship leader didn’t take us to that place of transcendence we were looking for. There’s even a good possibility that we won’t go to church next week because we just didn’t get that certain feeling we were expecting.
In our effort to achieve “feels” for every experience, we’ve turned our emotions into reality. We conclude that the only way we can determine something to be real, effective, or true is if we feel it. We’ve been blinded to the fact that we’ve made it all about us, as if God is required to pull our emotional chain in order for us to know that He’s really there and really loves us. Have we forgotten what the writer of Hebrews said?
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1
…or feel, for that matter.
Emotion is such a beautiful gift from God and many Christians need to allow their faith to go from their head to their heart. Too many people analyze everything so much that their cognitive response has no passion or they feel that they can emote vicariously through someone else who is designed to be more expressive. In many cases, their life tells a bland story that no one wants to listen to.
But we must be wary to not go too far in the other direction. We must remember that emotion is a part of our humanity…a humanity that has been tainted by sin. If you haven’t already experienced it yourself, the one area that Satan loves to mess with is our emotions. He loves to feed us lies that appear as truth knowing that the humanness of our emotions will demonstrate themselves in our attitude, our self-worth, and much more. The bottom line is that we cannot put faith in our emotions. They are too fickle. We must find balance.
So what happens when we DO get the “feels” in worship? We have an experience where we know we’ve met with God. We know we’ve been changed. But then Monday hits and somehow we’ve lost that feeling. The change we thought happened on Sunday isn’t there anymore and we struggle to keep our faith strong.
When we strive for an an emotional experience in worship, it keeps us needing the next one for our faith to remain strong; like an addiction to a drug that gives you a feeling of elation for a time and then wears off leaving you needing more. Worship turns into a roller coaster ride of shallow faith. There’s nothing rooting us to weather the good and the bad.
Undoubtedly, we should come to corporate worship with a sense of expectation, but do we ever consider what God’s expectations are? Do we expect to be inspired without considering what inspires our heavenly Father’s heart?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. -Micah 6:8
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. – Psalm 51:17
There is nothing wrong with being emotional in worship but if we’re completely relying our our feelings to determine whether our worship was inspiring or not, we’re looking in the wrong place. A momentary experience doesn’t compare to lasting life change. Emotion in worship should be a bi-product of an offering of faith based on obedience to the Word of God, love for others, and the life-long transformational work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2