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Emotions…how should I feel about them?

Matt Davis

Miracles have always captivated me, as is probably true of any reasonable person. God suspending reality to accomplish His will is an amazing thing to behold.  

Consider how the Israelites must have felt after walking on dry ground across the Red Sea and the worship that followed afterwards. The Bible tells us that people sang, they danced, and they expressed their gratitude to God through the song of Moses and the recapitulation brought by his sister, Miriam (if you don’t believe me, check out Exodus 15).

But how many times do we show up on Sundays and feel nothing? Before you stop reading and think I’m a heretic, I understand that my relationship with God is not built on emotion, but it is my belief based on scripture that, at times, it should evoke emotion

In most conservative church cultures, especially in the north where I grew up, emotions are bad. I’ve heard people say, “don’t get all worked up into a frenzy and pretend that God is making you feel that way,” (God forbid we acknowledge the Holy Spirit moving…). 

Emotions are not bad, evil, or immoral. You were created by God with emotions. And we can find many instances in the Bible of followers of God expressing their emotions, both positive and negative, without condemnation

So my question is: why do we condemn people for expressing emotions? Do we condemn the Israelites for dancing and celebrating God’s victory over the Egyptians? Do we condemn David for dancing in celebration of God’s goodness? Do we condemn Jesus for feeling empathy for His friends and crying outside Lazarus’ tomb? What about in the garden before He was arrested? I’d take it even one step further - think about how God the Father must have felt as Jesus hung on the cross and the Father had to turn His back on His only begotten Son for the first (and last) time. 

Of course we don’t condemn these examples. And yet, if someone is overcome with emotion on a Sunday morning, there is many times judgment waiting for those who express it. It’s not always verbalized, but sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s a look of disgust, an eye-roll, or a discussion on the car ride home. Sometimes it’s just a conversation we have with ourselves and God, reminding Him how much more polished and refined we are than this person trying to get everyone’s attention.

But we aren’t. Or at least, I’m not. 

And let me remind you, the Pharisees criticized Jesus and were redressed by Him for it. And in His church, in the body of Christ, as James puts it, “this ought not to be so.  

It’s my desire that each person who has been saved by Jesus Christ would love Him in the way God has asked to be loved: with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love Him with all of your choices, your emotions, your intellect, and your body. Because that’s what Christ has done for us.

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1 Comment

Jim Speer
Jim Speer
Mar 06

I'll second that amen.

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