Worship And Emotion
Mr. Donald L. Norbie of Greeley, Colorado, is a frequent contributor of study articles to “Food for the Flock.” He continues to serve the Lord in a Bible teaching, shepherding, and evangelistic ministry.
Perhaps you grew up in a formal church where the communion service was read from the hymn book. The minister and the congregation alternated in reading sections of the service. This order never varied; even the minister’s prayers were read. Then the emblems, the bread and the cup, were passed and the service was over. It was all quite perfunctory.
The opposite extreme may be seen too. Here there is little order but the goal of the meeting seems to be unrestrained raw emotion. People shout, are “slain in the spirit” and fall to the floor. It is gut-level feeling with little appeal to the intellect. In fact, the mind may be ridiculed as restraining the Spirit. To pray with “tongues” is viewed as more spiritual than to pray with understanding.
In our fear of unrestrained emotion we become too cold. Jesus as a person always elicited a strong, emotional response. People either were drawn to Him, or repelled by Him. They loved Him or they hated Him. Indifference was impossible in His presence.
If we meditate about the Lord Jesus our emotions should be stirred. When we sit around the Lord’s table, remember His death and worship, it should be a time of intense, emotional response. But it should be emotion that flows from thought and meditation, not generated by psychological manipulation.
Luke tells us of a woman who came and stood by Jesus’ feet as He reclined at a meal (Luke 7:36-50). Her life had been broken and soiled by sin. She was the town harlot; all knew her as a sinner. But she had come to Jesus. The memory of her sins was breaking her heart. She had been so wicked, so deceived. She only deserved judgment; according to the Law, stoning. But she stood at the feet of the only One who could help her and the tears of repentance flowed.
The tears finally ceased; she could weep no more. Now she must await His word. She bends low, lets her hair loose and tenderly wipes His feet repeatedly. Her lips which had kissed many men in lust are now touching the Holy One — and He does not draw back. She is not rejected but received.
With tears glistening in her eyes she opens her flask of fragrant perfume and pours it carefully on the feet of Jesus. The perfume’s fragrance eddies through the room as all watch in amazement at this display of love and devotion.
She has said nothing but her actions have told all. Now she waits in subdued silence at His feet. Oh to have seen Jesus’s face during this scene! His eyes must have been brimming with love. And she knew it; she knew before He spoke. She was forgiven.
Why are our hearts so often cold and unmoved at the Lord’s Supper? Can we sit smugly and complacently at the foot of the cross, untouched by it all? Is it because the terribleness of our own sin has not gripped us?
There are the sins of the past, the gross sins of our unconverted days. These should be enough to humble us and make us weep. And then there are the failures of even the past week: pride, jealousy, temper, lust in the heart.
Yet He does not reject us but tells us as He told that woman long ago, “Your sins are forgiven.” He holds out a nail-scarred hand and says, “Draw near.”
Jesus said, “To whom little is forgiven, the same loves little” (Luke 7:47). As we remember the greatness of our sin and the compassionate heart of our Savior, our tears may flow too. We will join that dear woman and all other sinners saved by grace at the feet of Jesus in worship and adoration.