Thursday, July 21, 2005

The God of emotion

often I hear Christians talk negatively about emotions. We say things like "your emotions decieve you" or "some people are emotionally driven." Are emotions really all that bad? what are they there for?

I remember when I first read about the tragedy happening in Darfur. I was overwhelmed with sadness and anger. I couldn't believe something like that could be happening and not be a main concern of the media. Have you heard anything about it on the news? I haven't. When i read about it My emotions swelled up inside me like I was about to burst.

It's not just these kinds of emotions but very posetive ones as well that stir in us. I remember a couple of months ago I went on a trip to mexico (these trips used to be routine to me). Our church takes these trips through a minisrty called Corazon. There are always swiling emotions at the end of trips like these. When I watched a grown man cry while handing over the keys to a house we had built in one day to a woman who's know a deeper level of poverty than I'll ever know I felt it. My emotions went nuts, for lack of a better term. This was a picture of God's compassion being painted right before me.

Maybe more common for you is the act of worship. I hear some Christians speak remorsefully about worshiping simply out of emotion. Have you ever worshipped God and been so completely moved that your heart is about to explode.

Maybe emotions aren't so bad. Have you ever wondered why we have them if they are so wrong. We as Christians live in a subculture that flees anything that might be dangerouse. Yes, emotions can sometimes draw us the wrong direction. Emotionally women are drawn to sex outside of marriage. Emotions cause people to kill one another. Emotions are not to be depended upon like God but to be experienced as a portrait of God. God's heart is revealed most clearly in the peaks of our emotions. At moments of our greatest Joy do we stop to realize that whatever causes that god experiences from every angle with His whole self? When we become angry about the pain and brokennes and ignorance that surrounds us do we wonder if God feels the same way? think about how you feel when you experience beauty, compassion, wholeness, the realization of a dream, the completion of an artistic creation (for you maybe a blog post). Does God not embody all of those things?

Of course our emotions can be tweaked and twisted causing us to do the wrong thing. Yes, if we flee from emotion we might be less likely to do something stupid but what kind of person will we become? Emotions are at the core a beutifully powerful force made to draw us closer to God and to people.

We often try to find ways to see how close we are to God, how is our relationship with Him doing? Maybe the answer lies somewhere in our emotions. How do you think of God? What do you think God is like? Do you think of God as a profoundly Joyful person? Do you see Him, as Rob Bell says, "beautifully angry" because of His comassion for the world? Do you see him sad because of the hurt someone has brought to their own life because of defiance? Or is God like a policeman out to get eveyone who crosses Him?

How do you feel when you see someone "sinning?" What's your emotion toward the tragedies happening around you? Do you feel anything when you hear a beutiful poem or see a hungry man get fed? Or are you frustrated and hard, picking at the world, pionting out every problem in judgement making those around you feel empty and guilty? Do you feel anything at all?

7 comments:

Ashley said...

This is such a great post Wes.

Just as I was reading a lady that works down stairs from me just came in and told that one of her grand-daugethers good friends from school drove his car off a cliff a few days ago because he was upset about a fight he had with his girlfriend. Needless to say he was killed instantly.

You made some great points in this post. Emotions are not always bad. I believe that if we did not have emotions that we would all be numb heartless individuals. In my opinion what is at the core of love, I think it is emotions. Emotions are not all bad.

On the other hand they can be expressed in a heartbreaking way. Look at that of the beautiful young life that was ended.

Emotions are so powerful, but I think they are what drive us. What would push us to help the hurting and the poor if we didn't even care about it. I don't think I could do anything.

Great post!!

Christine said...

Wow, I just wrote a big long reply and it's all gone.

The gist of what I said was that for me in the Graffiti Gate at Team I was taking confession. The students poured their hurts, pains and fears onto my heart. I felt some pretty heavy emotion, but it was this kind of empathy that helped me understand where they were at, and be able to respond with a loving tone in a place where they were.

So yeah, emotions = sweet deal...
catch ya later..
Christine

Maryellen said...

What surprises me most about the tragedy in Darfur is that it is so similar to the hideous events that Hollywood protrayed in Hotel Rwanda. But even though that movie got a lot of attention, Americans continue to be indifferent to the plight of the millions not "fortunate" enough to be born in the Good Ol USA. Wait, did that say that surprised me? Not much surprises this old hippy. I think that Jesus expects us, who are made in his image and called by his name, to react emotionally and then to act. Self control is one of the fruits of the Spirit, useful to keep our emotions in check. So we do not over react. But the fact that we are emotional creature, as well as the fact that we are creative creatures, prove that we are indeed created in the image of God. How can love exist without emotions. How can the world be changed without righteous anger?

Gayla said...

Wes, have you read Desiring God, by John Piper?

I'm reading it now, and he's talking about exactly what you're saying about emotions. Especially in worship. Don't have the book with me at work, so I can't quote you much.

I highly recommend the book it you haven't read it. It's given me some great insight.

Teresa said...

Great post! Bottom line is that emotions can be both. I think we always have to keep them in check. God often requires us to do something that conflicts with our emotions and sometimes they can be driven by the Holy Spirit inside of us. I think that we always need to check them with everything that we know. God gave us emotions as well as brains. We get into trouble when we rely only on emotions. Hey thanks for coming by my blog.

Teresa said...

Oh, I really want to go to Azuza Pacific, but it is too far away. You are blessed to be there! My son is your age and has not a clue what he wants to do.

Flip said...

I have read this post now like 3 times. I struggle with emotions - well I struggle with allowing a full range of emotions in my life other than anger or happiness. This was a good post worth thinking about.