worship

Does Your Heart Run on Hype?

The Emotional Power of Ordinary Sundays

Have you ever felt like the odd one out at a church service, the only one who’s not “feeling it”? Does it sometimes seem like everyone else is on the emotional mountaintop and you’ve been left behind in the valley?

For some time now, many churches have structured worship gatherings to heighten natural emotional stimulation. Dim the lights. Pick songs that tug the heartstrings, despite their thin context. Make sure the choir or band swells at just the right moment. Deliver the sermon to land with a poignant climax, a welling up of feeling that may not even necessitate the new birth.

All of this may be well-intended. But we will not find any evidence in Scripture that a marked emotional “high” is the normative experience for Christian worship. Will we be moved emotionally, and often? Yes. And hopefully with spiritual affections, not simply natural feelings. Can we depend on a weekly jolt of euphoria? I don’t think so.

In corporate worship we find something far better than a typical rush of feeling. Here are three reasons why we shouldn’t expect each Lord’s Day to produce an off-the-charts mountaintop experience, and why we can instead delight in the regular, ordinary, supernatural joy of engaging with God together.

Ordinary Means, Extraordinary God

 First, God has ordained that churches worship him through ordinary means. The elements of a Christian service are quite plain: texts recited and preached; prayer; human voices singing out loud; bread and wine; the water of baptism. The churches of the New Testament didn’t model their worship primarily on the rich ceremonies of the temple, with its incense, sacrifices, and golden trappings. Rather, it seems that they adapted the simpler format of the Jewish synagogue meeting, where the focus was on hearing the word of the Lord (Worship: Reformed According to Scripture, 36).

There is an asymmetry here. We worship a supernatural God. But the building blocks of our worship are natural and unremarkable on their own. Their ordinariness should help us focus less on what we’re doing — and even what we’re feeling — when we’re worshiping, and more on the God whom we’re worshiping.

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Source: Matt Merker | Desiring God

 

 

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