Religious Emotionalism

As we read about Rod in Chapter 3, I wonder how many of us wonder about his experience when he joins the church.

Going to the alter.  Being surrounded by men praying for him. The prayer being described as “I have never heard anything like it before”.  Weeping uncontrollably.  Asking God to forgive him.  God touching him.  Electricity running through his body.  Feeling totally clean.

Wow, that is dramatic.

Does that sound like what happened to you when you decided to follow Jesus?

Later in the chapter, Rod continues worshipping in church:  singing praise songs loudly and lifting his hands to God.  Often he has tears running down his cheeks.  He describes worship as a regular experience of feeling the presence of God.

Does that sound like how you go to church?

I was conversing with someone last week who was talking about visiting her son’s church.  She was having problems finding the right words to describe her son’s worship experience.  She said her son’s church had loud music, guitars, drums, loud singing and dancing from time to time.  Lots of amens and praises to God!

Then she stopped and said:  “That’s just not me.”

I tried to explain that her son’s church has a “worship style” that is appealing to certain types of people…maybe not the people of chapter 3—people who desire quality time with others and God.

Rod is a physical touch love language person and many worship services are geared toward people like Rod.   These churches focus on very beautiful worship centers, exciting and dramatic preachers, thrilling music with lots of rhythm and a hypnotic, repeated message–music designed to elicit an emotional response.  Often there is lighting in the sanctuary to enhance the mood and worship is often punctuated with shouts of praise and testimonials [maybe even some speaking in tongues].

Do you know what?

Some people need this to feel close to the Lord.

What does Greta need?

Quiet prayer for one.  She describes her “come to Jesus” moment as “months of contemplation, prayer and reading the Scriptures”.  She finally found her way to the church nine months after Rod’s conversion by reading Revelation 3:20, that famous passage of Jesus saying “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.”  That was her special moment and it had nothing to do with praise music, exciting preachers, dramatic lighting and group prayer.

It was Greta all alone, praying it out, meditating it out, reading it out and thinking it out.  I am reminded of the “greatest commandment” in Matthew 22:36-38:  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?  [a Pharisee trying to test Jesus] Jesus replied:  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’ ”

Greta is taking the mind part of that greatest commandment seriously.

She is using her mind to find Jesus.

God knows us.

I am convinced that He knows us completely.  He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He knows my past, my present acts and he knows my future.  He knows all my thoughts and my habits, even the very hairs on my head are numbered [Luke 12:7].

God also knows how to communicate with us.

That is why focusing on Rod and Greta is so important.

They are the most important idea that Dr. Chapman is expressing, some would say the thesis of his discussion.

You are unique.  I am unique.  God loves us.  God will find a way to communicate with all His unique people…using a love language that each of us needs.

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