I have heard it said, many times, that the type of worship I desire is led by the emotions of the people. This is often said in a demeaning manner. I have been pondering, lately, if that is really the truth and if it IS a bad thing. I decided to look some words up in the dictionary. Here’s what I found: Passion – An abandoned display of emotion. Worship – to show profound religious devotion and respect to; adore or venerate. Adore – to show profound religious devotion and respect to. Emotional – of more than usual emotion. Emotion – A mental state that arises spontaneously rather than through conscious effort and is often accompanied by physiological changes; a feeling. Spontaneously – These adjectives mean acting, reacting, or happening without apparent forethought or prompting. Spontaneous applies to what arises naturally rather than resulting from external constraint or stimulus.
Now, out of ALL these definitions, ALL of these explanations, I see NOTHING that would insinuate that worship led by emotion is bad, or even uncalled for. Quite the contrary. When we look through Psalms, where David (the song writer) penned so many of the words we use today in our worship songs, he was led by his emotions. He speaks of Gods wonders, he asks why, he speaks of revenge, he speaks of anger, he speaks of love, he speaks of beauty, he speaks of an awesome God. He calls out to the Lord, sometimes in despair, sometimes in such appreciation. Sometimes he dances, sometimes he bows to his knees. How can we NOT say he was driven by emotion?
Isaiah 2:13 says
13 The Lord says:
“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men. [b]
14 Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
15 Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the LORD,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
16 You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,
“He did not make me”?
Can the pot say of the potter,
“He knows nothing”?
Wow. Then, there is
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (Jesus is speaking)
So, I looked up “spirit”- A particular mood or an emotional state characterized by vigor and animation. Then, “truth” – Sincerity; integrity.
How can we sit and point fingers and call certain songs or styles unacceptable because they are emotion led? Spirit and truth. Emotionally sincere. Worship should be emotionally sincere. And, as we read previously, emotion arises spontaneously. Sincerity is “a quality of naturalness and simplicity”. So, as I answered my own questions, I opened up a truth to myself I had never thought of before. Well, I take that back, I had thought of it and this just confirms what I had believed. We should be NATURAL in our worship. If we cry, we cry. If we want to jump up and down, we should. If we want to shout, we should shout. If we want to sing something NOT written in the music, we should. We should be free, and sincere. Our heartfelt desire to give our Savior something beautiful and completely from us should fuel our worship. It should fuel and sustain it.
So, no. Emotional worship is NOT wrong. It is NOT uncalled for. It IS, however, what God longs for. What He desires of us. This shouldn’t be a challenge, it should be a desire.