Our Completely Unrealistic Expectations in Our Relationship with God
We can spend our entire lives reading and studying the Bible and still not know everything that God has told us in its pages. It’s that simple. But instead of studying His written Word (that some countries still do not have access to in their native languages), we set the Bible aside and become “seekers” who want God to speak to us audibly or directly and we want to experience Him on an emotional level.
Take a few moments to think about the most important person in your life, the person you love the most. Focus on that individual. Have you got them in your mind? Good, now think about why you love them. If you want, list or count the ways.
When you first got to know them, when did you first start loving them? Do you remember when that happened and what caused you to transition from liking them, to liking them a lot, to loving them?
For those of you reading this who have been married for years (at least 10 to 20 or more), has your relationship with your spouse changed at all during that time? If it has changed, how has it changed? Has it gotten better? If so, what brought that about?
As my wife and I began dating, it was so exciting, there were times I felt as though I did not need to sleep or eat! Food? What was that? Sleep? Never heard of it! We were just so excited to be around each other that nothing else except that mattered. We could do the most mundane, boring things and it was exciting.
As time progressed, those ethereal, endorphin-produced feelings begin to wane, but we were still in love. We eventually got married and today, roughly 30 years later, neither of us have regrets.
But what about our relationship? Is it just as “on fire” today as it was when we were first dating? No. In fact, to the outsider, we probably look like a couple of older people who simply hang around with each other. Nothing special.
During the first days of our courtship and marriage, we held hands a lot, walked arm-in-arm and did not want to be out of each other’s sight for any real length of time. Now, thirty years later, if business takes my wife out-of-town for a few days, I’m okay with it. Years ago, I would have curled up in a fetal position and thought the world was ending.
My point of all this is to say that in many ways, I believe I love my wife more today than I did when we first met, though it may look to others as though things have cooled. Those initial feelings were great feelings and were due to all the endorphins rocketing around in our systems. However now, thirty years later, we are much more settled, more comfortable with each other. We don’t take each other for granted, but we are far more comfortable with each other and understand one another much better than we did all those years ago. We know each other better and have more reasons to love one another.
This is how a good relationship naturally develops. My wife and I have spent lots of time with each other. We’ve gone through struggles and problems and worked through them. Church has always been important to us as well. It is a pattern that we also taught our children. We try to read the Bible together and pray almost daily. I truly believe that any good Christian marriage counselor would tell us that we have a great relationship, though it’s certainly not perfect, that ours is possibly the epitome of a good marriage. Yet, we are not “on fire” with one another as we were when we first met, but we love each other more now than we did then.
Yet, when it comes to our relationship with God, we believe we have to constantly be “on fire” where He is concerned and there has to be this strong emotional connection with God 24/7, 365 days per year. If there isn’t, we believe it’s due to not having done all that we should to make that happen. God clearly wants to “talk” with us and the lack of emotion in our relationship with God simply tells us that we have “fallen short” or that we’re not doing all that we can do. Folks, I’m going to say that these expectations we place on our relationship with God are wrong. If the “emotional response” to God is missing, we believe we have failed.
Have you ever been in a worship service where the song leader starts to cry as he leads worship? He’s been playing a chorus repeatedly, wanting the congregation to focus in on a phrase or two so he sings the same words over and over. Eventually, he begins welling up with tears. Look around the congregation and you’ll see other people wiping their eyes and blowing their nose. Why?
For one thing, the power of suggestion is very strong in some people. Others are just naturally sensitive emotionally. But I have to wonder why these same leaders never break into tears when they think about the relationship with their spouses? Why is that? Do they not love that person enough or are they in love with the feelings that emotions provide during certain songs?
They would argue that they are “experiencing” how much God loves them. Okay, but why does it have to be experienced in order to be real? Why do people feel the need for these visceral emotional experiences when it comes to worshiping God? I realize this is a fine line I’m discussing and some will no doubt disagree with my conclusions, but is it possible that people in the church – like the people outside of the church – have learned to approach God with an experiential mindset, one that is based on feelings (emotional virtue) as opposed to something based on facts as revealed in Scripture?
Some people actually believe that if people aren’t shouting, clapping their hands, and getting all emotional during the church service, then they’re not really worshiping God. Folks, I’ve “felt” more reverence for God in many services where people came with an attitude of respect and during the singing hymns than I have in churches where there’s a full band, choir, happy-looking faces and lots of hand-clapping, swaying to the loud music, and arms waving in the air.
I’m not knocking people who love God and show it emotionally. What I have a hard time with is when leaders try to whip up our emotions telling us that it is only through emotional outbursts that we can draw close to God. Folks, the quiet, small, babbling brook still has water running through it and in many ways, is far more peaceful and productive than a river with a torrent of water is speeding along.
It may seem like I’m splitting hairs, but consider how you worship God. Consider what He wants from us and compare that to how you show your love to the person in your life you love the most. If we consider the life of Daniel, there is nothing to indicate that he was a man of high emotion. He was obedient and deliberate in his worship of God. It was that obedience and deliberateness that caused the angelic messenger to tell him that he (Daniel) was “greatly beloved” by God (cf. Daniel 10:11).
I think way too much emotion is expected from some quarters of Christendom today. Emotional virtue (political correctness, aka Cultural Marxism) has infiltrated the visible church. Because of it, true reverence for God has flown the coop in many churches. We mistake ecstasy of feelings toward God as reverence when in reality, we may simply be expending great emotion that serves no purpose at all except to make us think that we are “closer” to God.
Give it some thought. Compare it to Scripture. If you believe you must have great emotion toward God for it to be counted as true worship, then I suggest that you also need to have great emotion toward the human being in your life that you love above all others. I think you would agree that you would grow tired pretty quickly if that were the case.
Certainly God wants our worship, but doesn’t need it. Yes, He wants our love, but doesn’t need it. Definitely, He wants us to show Him how much we love Him, but lifting our hands, swaying our hips to the music, and shouting out a song during worship doesn’t necessarily prove that to Him. It simply proves that we can dance and get excited about high-amped music. By the way, I’m saying all this as someone who has played drums for years. I’ve played at churches too, but gave that up a while ago for a variety of reasons.
We actually prove our love by our obedience and our dedication to God and His commands. Out of that, our lives become a sweet-smelling offering to Him. That is worshiping God.
Anyone can “feel” great for 20 minutes and clap their hands, stomp their feet, sway in the aisles and smiling so big their face might break. But God sees beyond all of that to our hearts anyway. What’s in your heart? That’s where worship begins.
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him (Jesus). Peter answered yes all three times. Jesus responded, “Feed my sheep.” We can dance a jig in church and praise God with our hands high above our heads, but if we don’t truly love God (and Jesus provided the definition of it to Peter), we’re nothing but a clanging cymbal, making noise.
If we truly love God, we will obey. That will be seen and accepted by God as worship. It doesn’t mean we become emotionless. It means that we are not driven or guided by our emotions.
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: emotional worship, music, worship.