In the previous blog, I wrote about the dangers of emotional worship which is unfounded upon a solid understanding of God’s Word. This kind of worship is empowered only by human sentiments and therefore can only produce natural results, tending towards failure.
There is, however, an emotionalism in worship that is profound and rich with meaning, one that emanates from a deep well-spring of revelation that “God loves me and has forgiven me.”
When Jesus went to visit Simon the Pharisee, there was a prostitute who brought an alabaster vial of perfume to pour on Jesus’ feet, kissing and wiping them with her tears. Simon was critical in his heart of Jesus, thinking that He didn’t know what kind of woman she was. But Jesus responded to him through a story of two people that were in debt, one who owed a little money and the other a lot. In the story, they both had their debt cancelled. Then Jesus asked Simon which of the two people would appreciate the man who had cancelled their debt more, the one who owed little or the one who owed much.
Simon responded, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” Jesus said, “You have judged correctly.” Then he enumerated to Simon all of the ways the woman had blessed Him since the time He had walked through the doors versus Simon’s negligence to show hospitality and care, finishing up by this comment, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Lk. 7:47-48)
David wrote, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Ps. 32:1)
“Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov. 20:9)
The greatest message (and perhaps the most foundational) of Christianity is that of Forgiveness. When we realize God’s love and forgiveness for our very own life, it produces a well-spring of joy and happiness, an emotion not coming from our own humanity, but one that is empowered by God Himself.
The Apostle Paul echoes again in the New Testament, “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” (Rom. 4:7-8)
The word ‘blessed’ means: happiness, bliss. The word ‘bliss’ means lightness of heart, supreme happiness or delight.
There is a depth of emotion that can be released through a believer’s life, which flows like a mighty river from the inside of his being, when he is connected to the spiritual realities of God’s forgiveness and grace.
This emotion is authentic, founded upon reality. It’s a kind of emotion that brings fullness and benefit to our lives. It doesn’t have to be ‘ginned up’, it’s not a show or ‘put on’, but rather it is something that no circumstance, situation, individual or community can take away. “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33) “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (Jn. 15:11) “but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.” (Jn. 16:22)
God validated His forgiveness in our lives through Jesus’ resurrection. "As those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification." (Rom. 4:24-25) Because of God’s power to raise Him from the dead, we now have the assurance that our lives have been cleansed, purified and made whole.
So when we see emotional worship, we must be careful not to be critical, as Simon the Pharisee was, because in our ‘objectivity’, we might be missing out on an opportunity to love God deeply, based upon His love for us.
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I Jn. 4:10)
Worship that stems from an attitude that “I love God” is a worship that is emanating from Natural Man, tending towards self-centeredness and even ‘worshiping worship’. However, worship which comes from an attitude of: “I love God because He first loved me” is a deep river of blessing, which will produce true happiness and contentment.
Whoever drinks from the water of human emotionalism shall indeed thirst again,
“but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14)
My prayer for the worshiping community is that we always know from which source we are drinking.