We are called to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. And if we are called to love God, then we are certainly called to love Him with all of our emotions as a part of that. We are to learn how to discipline our emotions and one of the places to do that is here in the service of worship each Lord’s Day.
Now we tend to view our emotions as inevitable and uncontrollable. But Paul instructs us, for instance to “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” These are emotions that God commands us to have in certain situations. There are times that we are to feel anger, joy, sorrow, love, and so on. Our whole life is to be brought into conformity to God’s Word and this includes our emotions.
The liturgy of this service carries with it a variety of emotional tones – emotions we should not simply fake, but emotions that we should discipline ourselves to have as we give ourselves to the Lord. God calls us and we should feel a sense of fear, expectation and anticipation for what He is going to do. We are called to confess our sins, and we should experience remorse for our sins – against God and in how these sins have often harmed others. We then hear that our sins are forgiven and we should not only say “Thanks be to God” with great vibrancy – we should feel it – do you not realize what He has just done – do you not remember how much this cost Him and how wonderful it is for your soul to have the guilt and shame of your sin removed? Give yourself to such emotions.
As we sing our praise, as we say our prayers, there are a host of emotions, often dictated in the words and certainly through the themes, that we should give ourselves to – imitating – cultivating – and mimicking – in order that we would not only say but also feel what is good and right and appropriate at all times. And when the Word is read and preached, we should feel the thunder of it – both of fear, but also of a hammer that is breaking open our hearts and freeing us, making us more supple, releasing us to greater truth and life.
This good liturgy will force us to examine our emotions. But that means that you must now come and actively participate in every part of the service. You should be somewhat tired when we are through, for this is not a time of entertainment, but of engaging your mind, will, and emotions, before the throne of God. Come and worship your God.