Thursday, October 27, 2005

Emotional Christianity

Something I have run into in the last few years at college is the concept of emotional Christianity. This takes on many forms, but the most obvious of these is found in chapel. To say that emotion is not found in worship is untrue. However, worship's primary purpose is to praise God, not make you feel good. Although, praising God often has the affect of causing emotion, this is not always the case, and must not require it to be the case. The hard truth of the Christian life if that we must still worship God and serve him even on days when we do not feel like it. It is a dangerous proposition to set up emotion as a necessity every time you enter the house of God.

When we as the Church get caught up in the emotionalism of the worship, we begin to run the risk of shifting the focus off of God and His majesty and onto ourselves and how we are feeling in that moment. A great example of this is found in the chapel services found at my school. Each chapel begins with singing worship songs. After the songs, somebody leads the students in prayer. However, while this person is praying, the musicians continue to play their instruments softly and repeatedly, the volume rising and falling with the voice of the person praying. This has one purpose and one only: to create emotion. This emotion is created not only in the listener, but also in the person praying. This emotion is for emotion-sake only and has no place. The worship of God and the prayer of His people should be enough to arouse emotion. But to whatever extent that it does not happen, we are operating under the assumption that it is not worship without emotion. We enjoy the "high" the emotion gives us, and in it's absence we feel something missing. Yet there is nothing wrong with this. It is simply human nature to not be happy all the time, but it doesn't mean there cannot be genuine worship without it. We are merely serving our own needs rather than God's by insisting on artificially creating a false sense of emotion.

In truth the musicians continuing to play bothered me because it was disrespectful to the person praying, but more importantly, it was disrespectful to God because they were serving their own needs for emotion rather than bowing in respectful prayer. Yes, it is true spiritual "highs" are nice, but they are fleeting. And we cannot hang our spirituality on the "high" of a church service. We feel that when the high is gone, something is wrong. But this is not true. Emotional states like that do not last forever and must not become the marker for ideas of ideal worship.

True worship comes from the heart. It is about our love toward God that allows us to worship Him when we do not feel like it. It is easy to let the emotion overwhelm us and to get caught up in our own feelings rather than focusing on the One whom we should. And in doing so, that same emotion becomes a necessity. It is in this that the danger lies. We must focus our attention on the One who we trust for our salvation. In a truly grateful heart this will cause feelings of true joy. God calls us to have a joyful heart. But this is vastly different than being "caught up in the feeling".

Yes, we need to worship God and do all with a joyful heart. But let us remember the God whom we serve and not allow ourselves to place the feelings of emotion above the position of our Lord.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you are biblically correct .just as agape love is not an emotion, it is a commitment © 2010. layout by Chaotic Soul :: Converted by Randomness