Emotionalism. Where Do We Draw The Line?
Last month I went to an arena football game where our local team was involved in a playoff game. It was an exciting game and you could feel the electricity in the crowd. The enthusiasm was contagious. I found myself leaping and cheering on nearly every play. After the game as I was driving back home I thought to myself: ďWhy canít we be this excited about God?Ē
Itís amazing how it is totally acceptable to be excited and even fanatical about a game but the same behavior is criticized when it comes to the praise of God. Such excitement is condemned by others (and other Christians) as being ďtoo emotionalĒ if we get excited in church. I think our priorities are a little warped about this idea. I include myself in this assessment as well. Why not be excited and emotional about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Naturally there are always those who go to the extremes in emotions but are emotions really that bad when it comes to worshipping God?
Sometimes we are so afraid of being too emotional that we totally quench ANY emotions at all. But arenít we created beings with emotions? Arenít we created in the likeness of God? Doesnít God inhabit the praise of His people? You really need only one example for a fitting view of someone who didnít let their emotions be dependent upon what people thought. David was once so excited about the presence of the Lord that he danced. (2 Samuel 6:14-23) David was the King but he refused to allow his position to limit him in his praise to the almighty God. Davidís wife, Michal saw the display of emotions when David danced in his royal undergarments and this disgusted her and she promptly told him so. She thought this behavior was totally unbecoming of a king. She even used a little jealousy to make her case. David was not hindered by Michalís criticism. In fact, Michal was cursed from that day until her and had no children.
David is a prime example of showing us that emotions arenít all bad. True, there are some who can get a bit extreme in this but really who are we to judge this? I have found myself being critical of people when they act a little bizarre or show what I deem too much emotion. I have been guilty of watching television ministries and seeing people jumping or shouting and being very critical of their actions. Never again will I do this. If a little emotionalism helps someone to survive, then I just need to pray about it and let it go. I would rather be in a church service that was too emotional than one that is . Iíve been in too many services in my lifetime. I want to be in a place where there is life and people are excited about God; not just mouthing the words to a song of praise. People are going to criticize anything regardless, so why not just make it worth their while? We can get excited about a sport, which means absolutely nothing. We should allow people the right to express themselves in matters which have an eternal significance.
I know some of you may attend churches or might have a firm belief in such displays of emotions. I wonder how your church would feel if David came to church one Sunday? Iím sure David wouldnít be able to sit still. Iím not saying you have to stir up a revolt and be disruptive in church. Certainly there is a need for reverence and order but there is a difference between being emotional and being disruptive. There should always be a proper balance.
There is a cause for excitement. Jesus is alive and alive in you and in me. Hallelujah! He lives forever and one day we will live with Him. Now THAT is something to be excited about! He loves us and wants us to experience the joy that only He can provide. You donít have to start ďthe waveĒ in your pew this week in church but just enjoy your experience with Him. His presence is worth more than any touchdown .
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Amen Milton! There's a balance, but the minute we take our emotions out of the equation when we praise God, then we are basically going through a ritual because we have to. Our emotions are God-given and will play a part in our worship and praise. The danger comes when we have to have the emotions and feelings in order to praise God (you know, "I just don't feel His presence today" Whether we feel His presence or not doesn't really matter - He is there because we are there) or spend all our time racing to the next big spiritual high. Anyway, good article Milton and definitely a good point. With love, Deb