Emotions in Christianity are quite a strange thing. We often say that it isn’t about how we feel, but it is about the how we hold on to the truth, that emotions don’t play a part in our faith. Although often that is expressed more in the sermon then in the sung worship where we appeal to our emotions to “press into God”. I think we get a little mixed up, I think I can get a little mixed up. Sometimes we can think that emotions are not important in Christianity and they should be put on the shelf.
Are emotions important? Well Richard Sibbes says:
“We are not as we know, but as we love… our affections are those things which declare what we are” “If we have Religion only in the brain and not in love, we shall be stripped of all. Satan will rob us of any truth.”
Jonathan Edwards says:
“If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart”
Affections within Christianity are of most importance. We are told in the bible to feel joy (Phil 3:1), experience sorrow (2 Cor 7:8-11),thankfulness (Col 3:15-17) to love and be zealous (Rom 12:9-11)…
Most often in preaching the appeal is to our character and knowledge, the appeal is for us to change. We read the bible to get quick fixes and we listen to sermons to “fill us up” for the week. We use worship for some display of emotion … But my heart will not change unless its been encountered with the fire of Christs love. And worship will not overflow if my heart is cold and my week will continue to trudge along with a dull heart. The answer? Its not all about emotions and how I feel? … mmm
On one part no. Your salvation and how God sees you is not based on your emotions. AT ALL. But how about your affections towards Christ? How are they? Do you love him? Are you enjoying him?
What if you heard how wonderful Christ is? That his love for you is far greater than you can imagine? That you can come to him in what ever state you are in and his love will place fire in your heart and warm you up. That he died for you not because he hates you, but because he loves you and you can have life in Him. Have you seen how beautiful he is and how his radiance shines and how he lavishes his love on you, his bride? Oh yes, he gets angry but only when you throw that love away and prostitute yourself to idols, he wants your heart, he wants you to come to the fountain of living water where you will never be thirsty again. Do you know him? If you do not know this Jesus, then someone needs to tell you…
So I plead, preacher, that you appeal to our emotions and preach the wonderful Christ who died for us, speak of his love with such passion and joy and deep love that I cannot help but see him and have his love burn in my heart. I will encounter Him with such worship and such zeal and passion, not because I am “pressing in” but because the Spirit cries “Abba Father” and Jesus has already pressed into the Father for me and I will just enjoy him, sitting in his love and having my heart melted.. Preach Christ and not morality or how to be a better christian or some mysterious power “god” and you will see a different church.
Emotions are important. The church won’t do mission without Joy and love in Christ.
And there will be times when we don’t feel like we are in a good place and we can’t say we are enjoying Jesus. And yes we must remember the truths, but we must cling to Christ. He does not stamp on the bruised reed. It’s not about feeling happy, but it is about coming to Christ as a bruised reed and knowing that his love is there for you and as I have heard from a friend – When you don’t desire God, Jesus desires him for us… cling to Jesus and let your heart be warmed, however long it takes.
Related Post: Affections of the heart