You cannot have a healthy relationship without expression. While we can be wisely cautious about pure emotionalism, a service that lacks any emotion is probably not connecting with people’s hearts.
I travel a lot. I know the best places to plug in my laptop in far too many airport concourses. When I travel, I have to leave my wife and children behind most of the time. I am deeply in love with all of them.
Put this picture in your mind: I come home after a long overseas tour, walk in the door of my house and impassively tell my wife of 29 years, “I love you. You are wonderful. I would like to shake your hand.”
Any person in a healthy relationship knows that this would be one of the signs of a dysfunctional relationship.
When I come home after a long tour, I wrap my long arms around my beautiful bride and tell her how much I love her. Sometimes there’s a tear. Sometimes, there’s a whole lot more. This is one of the signs of a healthy relationship!
Why is it any different with God? As great as our relationships are on this earth, they are nothing compared to the inexpressible, passionate gift of life we have been given by God. It says in Philippians 2: 6-8 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!"
Talk about a passionate love story! The creator and sustainer of all life itself became one of us and walked among us in our decaying flesh. He gave up the beauty, love, serenity, and perfect culture of heaven. Not only did He do that – He was spiked to His own creation (a tree) by His own creation (us). Yet, in the midst of all this He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Then, He exploded from the grave three days later, gave us a mission with eternal consequence and promised He would be with us to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20). He would never walk out on us. He would never turn His back on us. When we forget about Him, we are always on His mind. When we turn down the wrong pathway, He is always redirecting us.
Now, this is a relationship to celebrate more than any other! If this realization does not bring about passionate expression in our worship, then we had better check our pulse. We might just be dead!
A healthy relationship will always be expressive. If it is not, it is dysfunctional. Healthy worship will always be expressive. If it is not, it is dysfunctional.
It is important to say at this point that simple emotionalism can become an addictive drug. When the endorphins are flying through our system like bullets, we feel great. This can happen in our worship. Emotions are a gift from God but when they become the object of our worship service then it simply becomes emotionalism and that feeling becomes the end goal. We seek the gift and not the giver. The ‘worship leader’ achieves ‘success’ when they can bring the crowd to emotional hysteria whether through tears or ecstasy.
When our worship is balanced, and we seek the giver and not simply the gift then emotion becomes a natural response to divine truth.
Sometimes our hearts soar like eagles. Other times, they sit like chickens. We all go through phases. Give yourself grace while you are seeking the giver.
Are you seeing expressive but grounded worship in churches today? Let me know what you think.