Following the philosophical traditions of western culture which err towards stoic and unemotional worship and dry preaching our current culture is fleeing that dryness of deep thought and lofty words towards a wetness in our belief and especially in our outward and corporate worship of our God.
Songs of worship sung most often in modern evangelical churches tend towards emotional validation of our faith. “Let me lose myself in God. We want to feel your Holy Spirit moving inside us.” Demands for emotional validation. We want to feel good worshiping God.
We have had a bad week. We are feeling down and beginning to feel our own humanity and lack of ability to surmount the troubles of life. In other words we are right where God wants us and right where He can can work most effectively in and through us. And instead of thanking our loving and caring Father for placing us right where we need Him most we whine and complain and demand God validate our existence by making us feel good so we can scrabble through another week feeling capable because God must love me because He made me feel good last Sunday.
Emotion, the soul and feeling parts of our person are important and necessary and God delights in filling us with feelings that spring from Him and His love. God made sex and love and delicious food and warm spring rain and brisk fall winds and summer afternoons and swimming and friends and good stories and fireplaces and warm blankets and everything else good and enjoyable and pleasurable and beyond all these He has promised heaven will be beyond anything we can imagine even in our most lofty dreams and visions and there and back again experiences.
I am not discounting the importance of emotions. I’m challenging forgetting the mind, that necessary organ of thought and rationale and sense and consideration, in our schema of worship.
Any love worth holding is a love that begins with the mind, or one that quickly enlists and persuades the mind not of how it feels, but of whether or not it is sensible.
Your first crush in love is a wonderful thing. the sun shines brighter when your love smiles at you and darkens whenever you are apart.
But time passes, usually quickly, and our sensible and kill- joy mind gets through the delirium of ecstasy with warnings and cautions, eventually getting the better of our wayward heart.
In love and worship of our Lord and Savior there will never be a time of honest thought finding factual and substantive purchase in any thought contrary to the words of truth of our God. However, the senseless worship and blind love of our God leaves one vulnerable to attack in so many more ways. Emotions ebb and flow according to the prevailing winds inside and out. And when our love is based on the shifting sands of emotion, and that emotion changes, our love can fade as quickly as shadows in the morning.
When love is based not on mercurial emotions but is rooted in fact and sense, that love is not a feeling but a foundation. On that foundation I can build the flowery feelings of romance and the steady feelings of deep friendship and the protective feelings when the winds of trial blow. This steady and reliable love is based on fact and decision, not feelings. Feelings flow from it and are built upon it but because they are results and companions and not sources and causes this love lasts and is more worthwhile and substantial. And the feelings, because they flow from something resolute and sure are that much stronger for the trust you can truly put in them.
This is the love our spouse deserves. How much more does our God deserve such a love?
In the songs and stories of our church in the West we are seeking a selfish and unholy emotional gratification rather than a complete and utter trust in God birthed of our own inability and weakness illumined by His complete and utter ability and strength, and His love in sharing these abilities so freely with us.
To see that gulf between inability and ability and to accept His act bridging that gulf. To cross that bridge in His strength relying on Him to support us through the rest of our mortal life. To do this is to choose, first with our mind, and following with the love of our heart in belief, in Christ and experience salvation of our entire self, the mind, the will, and the emotions.
And then as we continue to live for Him, our mind, our will, and our emotions are each called upon individually and in concert to give themselves up before Him in abject worship of His ability. No longer are we prostituting our emotions to gain support for our will to tough it out a week at a time. We can rest sure, seeing His working in our past and trusting His plan for our future.
The heart of worship includes our mind.