8 ) Expressive Worship.
Part 3: Emotion.

I am “for” Expressive Worship. One of the greatest things about expressive worship is the emotion that often comes with it. Emotion is most certainly a way that we can worship God (see the scriptures listed in the post prior to this). We worship God with our emotions, but we do not worship God because of our emotions. That’s an important difference. We should worship God whether we feel like it or not. Sometimes in our Christian walks, we have “high spots.”

I think all Christians can relate to the high spots.

Some Christians go on a missions trip, have an amazing God-encounter, and then come home and within a few days or weeks everything is just like it was before the trip. What a waste.

The most common example is probably church camp. I recently heard one young man refer to it as a “camp high,” where you have a massive God-encounter at camp and come home and everything goes back to the way it was before. He came back from church camp excited because he did not experience a “camp high.” He said he did not want a “camp high” because there was just emotion attached to it. He is not alone. I’ve heard this attitude over and over again — people don’t want a “high spot” because it goes back to the way it was and is surrounded on emotions.

Every time I hear that I feel sick. Seriously — I just puked a little bit in my mouth. That’s stupid, folks.

The stupid thing is NOT the mountain top experience. We should strive to give God everything we have and to have mountain-top, emotion-filled experiences. Mountain-top, emotion-filled experiences are all throughout the Bible. If we read through it quickly without chewing on it, we fail to realize the emotion that occurred in some of the Bible stories. When the Ark of the Covenant came into Jerusalem, David danced naked — certainly that was a result of emotion! There are numerous examples of the disciples’ emotional responses after their encounters with Christ in the gospels. People that were healed got up and danced and shouted about how they were just healed. Kings ripped off their clothes and and covered themselves with ashes to be humble before God — certainly there was emotion there. They all worshiped with their emotions! We should seek God-encounters and embrace the emotions that may occur with it. That’s not stupid.

The stupid thing is that people let their life go back to the way it was before. What a complete waste! The examples in the Bible of people who had mountain-top experiences — those experiences changed their lives. We need mountain top experiences — its part of life. When you have a God-encounter take advantage of it. Maybe there is emotion involved . . . there probably is! Who gives a rip? It’s a God encounter! Are there seriously Christians who are so intellectual that they will avoid a God encounter if emotions are involved? That’s sad, but its true.

I realize some people are more emotional than others. The emotion “standard” is not “jump six times, raise hands for 10 minutes, and shout during the songs.” That mindset is exactly why “emotion” has a sour taste to many Christians. The emotion “standard” is that we each appropriately express what is on the inside of us. I am “for” Expressive Worship, even if it includes emotion. The line is crossed however, when the emotion becomes the worship. We worship God with our emotions.

24 Replies to “8 ) Expressive Worship.
Part 3: Emotion.”

  1. Thank you for your fresh views on worship, mountain top experiences, etc… It is wonderful to come here to this assembly and worship freely and let the holy spirit have his way, but I am always seeking more and hoping for more to come to Gods wonderful altar and praise, to be edified, lifted up and encouraged. We need a spiritual hunger for the things of christ as we prepare each Saturday and Sunday to “GO OUT” into our work places, stores and various other establishments and to do Gods will as we are all called. By, the way, what is a metronome?. I know the metrodome in minnesota where the Twins play baseball! May the Lord bless and keep your young life today and may you continue to grow in the wonderful things of God! your humble brother, Kerry D.

  2. I’m told that I’m of the intellectual camp…I guess I’ve never considered myself thusly, but, apparently others do.

    Anyway, I would never avoid a God-encounter simply because there might be emotions involved. Frankly, I would never avoid a God-encounter!

    But, I do think that emotions should never be the instigator for our actions. In counseling circles, there is something called the Cognitive Thinking Cycle. Basically, it states that an emotionally healthy human being thinks cognitively, then makes a decision based on that cognition, which results in a behavior, which causes an emotion.

    Emotions are certainly a healthy part of our lives, but they should always be the result of something, never the inspiration or the cause.

    Take, for instance, anger. If I am angry at someone, and hit them in that anger, I am wrong. The fact is, that tomorrow, or maybe in five minutes, I won’t feel that way anymore. I may still be angry, but my emotional moment will have passed. I can walk away and think before I act. Similar to Jesus’ example of seeing the people mistreat the temple, and then going away for a night and making a whip. He thought about it before he reacted.

    I think that emotions are great, when they come into to play in their proper context.

    One thing that scares me to death is when I hear pastors talking about how we need to get our programs (i.e. Easter/Christmas musicals/programs, worship services, and other events) to cause people to have an emotional response. I’ve heard two different pastors say to me that if we can simply get people to have an emotional response, we’ve done our job. What if that emotional moment passes, and they no longer feel that way? If they’ve thought through what they are doing, make a decision based on that thought process, hold to that decision in a behavior, then the emotion is healthy. Otherwise, emotion leads to poorly held and badly made decisions.

  3. Maybe a better way to say what I’m trying to say is that we should never be driven by, or live in, the emotions.

  4. Just throwing this out there to get others’ responses: Doesn’t the Holy Spirit use our emotions, and even speak to us through them?

  5. @ Tara: Yes I think so.

    @ Joe: “Emotions… should be the result of something, never the inspiration or the cause.” … EXACTLY! That’s precisely what I mean when I say, we worship God WITH our emotions, not because of them.

  6. @adam: OK, I’m glad that’s what you are saying.

    Sometimes I get so caught up in the details of what’s being said, that I miss the bigger picture. I wasn’t really trying to disagree, I was just trying to air out my thoughts on this, and become a part of the conversation. (It’s how I connect to the bigger picture, through the long discourse of conversation.) I’m really enjoying this series of posts, and looking forward to the next one!

    @tara: Yes, I think God can speak to us through our emotions. But I think we need to be very careful go never take an action or make a decision based on emotion, we should first submit that decision to cognitive thinking…I don’t remember if you were at the class when Doc Swanson talked about that, but it’s where I’m drawing the cognitive thinking cycle from.

  7. @Joe, you are right, and what you are saying is true. Just remember that you are a MAN. Cognitive thinking without emotion is generally easier for men, but it’s not how God wired women, and I believe that is for a purpose, without women (and emotion) we would be a race of robots (can I get a shout out from all the women out there that have to live with a rational, cognitive man every day that drives them crazy????!!!!!)

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