Today I spent some time reading through a few select psalms and found a recurring concept that really struck me as quite normative for NT Christianity. Before I lay that theme out, let me tell you why it struck me as so important. I’ve heard a lot of Evangelicals say things that seem to minimize the importance of emotions. Various pastors and preachers have said things like, “It doesn’t matter how you feel about it, the Bible says…” or things like that. Often, I’m agreement with their main point, but I’m afraid that what comes across is that emotions don’t matter.
Of course, that is fundamentally flawed because the two great commandments are richly emotional – love the Lord your God… love your neighbor. Yet many of our Evangelical churches spend all of their time focusing on the cerebral part of worship and tend to miss the more emotional leaning expressions. So the preaching is great and the songs are doctrinally rich and the church is very cerebral. This is often contrasted with churches where feelings are all that matter and as long as there are extended times of singing (and crying!), things are going well!
In my mind… it would seem that we need to allow for the seeming tension of cerebral vs. emotional (an unneeded tension, if you ask me!). We certainly need good expository preaching and doctrinally rich singing, yet these must flow out of and lead others to having deep emotional responses to God and others (namely, love!).
This is why the psalmist writes,
“Pour our your heart before God” (Ps. 62:8)
“With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD” (Ps. 142:1)
Pouring out one’s heart and crying out to the Lord and pleading for mercy are certainly emotional responses to God, right? I would certainly think so.
And this is the same type of Christianity that the apostle Paul commanded people to have, which is why he wrote to the Ephesians that they should address one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (Eph. 5:19) or why he wrote that the Colossians should sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16). The same type of emotional response in the Old Testament that flowed from the objective truth of God’s self-revelation was found in the New Testament as the proper way to both worship God and build up others.
Marvelous… simply marvelous.