Emotion in worship can be a pretty hot topic, especially if the debaters are relatively new to the world of critical thinking. If there were to be two camps, one would likely attend a more charismatic church while the other errs on the side of conservatism. There are some fence-sitters, but for the sake of argument, we’ll lump us all into the two former groups. Remember in these descriptions, I am going to the extreme.

Charismatics are more likely to be emotional in worship, and it is an essential part of their experience with God. This does, however, come with its problems. Sunday mornings can end up becoming times of emotional high, while periods throughout the week are relative lows. This leads to a ‘roller-coaster’ faith, where your walk with Christ almost entirely relies on how you are emotionally. As well, emotion can be very deceiving; it sometimes leaves us with false impressions about the world around us. For instance, if we are feeling overly happy, it could blind us from some serious issues that require our attention. The combination of those two things is called euphoria, and is very dangerous because it makes us careless. As you know, maintaining our faith requires, among other things, a great deal of care. This is just one example of a simple emotion like happiness escalating to a level that is detrimental to our walk with God. Also, when people are together, there will always be a desire to fit in. Even if you aren’t totally comfortable with it, you might fake emotion either for the sake of being noticed, or not standing out, whichever suits you best.

On the more conservative side of the line, emotion in worship can almost seem devoid. You won’t see much crying during a song, and a part of that might be simply not showing emotion, even if it is there. However, many conservatives try to stifle emotion in an attempt to not be controlled by it and be lead to the same issues I just pointed out. While useful in that sense, I would argue that it is difficult to truly be worshipful without the heart. Jesus didn’t simply concentrate on the people around Himself. He felt for them. He could engage with them because He felt sympathy, compassion, anger and all of these other things. In order to truly love God, there needs to be an emotional component. This is where a die hard conservative might be lead astray. Instead of getting overly emotional, they strangle that feeling and lose out on what would otherwise be a very intimate moment with God. Like with the charismatics, the tendency is to hold back even if you want to break out into an emotion. Likewise, either you want to be seen, or you don’t.

Both sides have validity to them, and this one issue, while not really spoken about that much between denominations, is a serious divinding line in the Church. As with just about everything in the Bible, this requires balance. Though, I will say right now, there will always be a tension between the two patterns of thought, and maybe rightfuly so. We must keep our emotions in check so they don’t lead us astray, but equally so we can’t hold back. Use the utmost caution, but when God says walk, you run. Remember that at one end is God and the blessing He made, and at the other is Satan waiting to mess it up.

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