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"Believing in Fairy Tales: Dispelling Falsehood in the Christian Church?": Part 1 - Emotionalism
Fairy Tales to Dispel in Today's Christian Church
Emotionalism in the Church
I vividly remember a Bible study very early in my Christianity when one of the men boldly stated that “if you don’t get the ‘warm and fuzzies’ during your worship, you’re doing it wrong”. At the time I wasn’t mature enough and did not know the Lord well enough to question this statement, so I just went along with it.
I thought, “hey when I get the ‘warm and fuzzies’ I must be doing something good; but if I don’t I’ve got to try harder or God won’t be happy with my worship”. Thank God I know better than that now! Thankfully even through this period of life, my walk with God has never been about just satisfying emotional cravings.
If you look around at preachers trying to sell out auditoriums, fill megachurch chapels, write best-sellers, or produce the highest-rated religious TV shows they nearly all have one thing in common: they pander to, cater to, and attempt to manipulate the emotions of their audience.
What many of these preachers have discovered is that people will pay a lot of money to feel good about themselves and their lives. People will go great distances to hear someone encourage them to feel complacent, or who promises the key to success, happiness and fulfillment.
Hurting people seek desperately for comfort and healing. Depressed people scramble to find hope. Anguished people seek peace desperately.
Who is there to meet them?
Unfortunately, often times it is someone who simply wants to take advantage of them. Jesus had a word for those who do this: wolves!
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits…”
Wolves in the Pulpits?
In today’s world, particularly in the western Church, we see the wolves are very crafty. Often they will use repetitive music that has little or no doctrinal value, but that has a great deal of energy to hype up their crowd. They will often practice their inflection and gestures to make sure they are dynamic enough for the crowd.
While there is nothing ungodly at all about being a charismatic speaker, it is not required or even given preference in God’s word. Our pastors, preachers and teachers are not given to us to entertain and excite us. Neither are they given to offer us a pep rally to set our hopes on worldly things and carnal values.
God gives them to us to proclaim His word. That’s the overriding job or mission of a pastor, a preacher or a teacher: to faithfully proclaim the whole counsel of God. That includes a lot of passages that do not come off as encouraging when judged by the world’s standards.
Do our pastors and teachers concern themselves more with getting us through to the next Sunday emotionally, or getting us through to heaven complete in our spirituality?
Do our pastors and teachers concern themselves with making sure we are happy, smiling, encouraged and patronized? Or do they ensure that we are challenged, convicted of sin/error, rebuked, equipped and exhorted to holiness?
Jesus goes on in Matthew 7 to describe good fruit and those whose spiritual house stands firm, as it was built on the solid rock of His word (The Bible), by faith in and obedience to that word. Jesus had a ministry of going to those who were deceived, who were sick, hungry, demon-possessed and afflicted.
His ministry was all about preaching the truth and pointing all towards God and His great glory. The miracles and the healing were nothing more than the signs used by Jesus to authenticate the message of his ministry.
Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats - Charles H. Spurgeon
Goats in the Pews?
We see that throughout Jesus’ ministry, as often as people flocked to him, they also left him or turned against him when the message of repentance and the Kingdom of heaven was offensive to them. Crowds attempted to stone Jesus to death unsuccessfully, the Pharisees and religious leaders attempted to debate him and plotted to kill Jesus, and eventually Jesus was crucified. And the reason Jesus was crucified was two-fold: He preached a radical message that confronted sin and unbelief, and he rightly proclaimed that He was God in the flesh.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
As much as I would like to say that Jesus’ warning was only regarding these false teachers, of course I cannot. We see that in the verse above, along with a great many others, it is all who risk this. Any time we put our feelings on a pedestal above truth, wisdom and righteousness we have gone astray. They are too fickle and come from a human heart that has already been tainted with sin.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
The Best Way to Run the Goats Out of the Pews
Learn What to Look Out for and Why
What's the solution?
Jesus spoke about the condition of the human heart in John 3:19-21 (right after one of the most famous verses in the Bible about the free gift of salvation), because mankind is more concerned with lusts, pleasures and feelings. People have “loved darkness rather than light” because “every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
To follow Jesus requires us to die to self. We must be willing to judge our own motivations, desires, emotions and thoughts. We must be willing to go through discomfort, offense and even suffering for the Lord’s sake. That’s not a message that fills pews.
God desires to have an intimate relationship with each of us as His children. He desires to work through us and refine us, making us more like Him in the process. And with this does come some tremendous emotional benefit.
However, that benefit only comes once we have subjected our emotions to, and submitted them to God’s priorities, purposes and will. He has revealed these to us in Scripture. And His Holy Spirit convicts us of these.
A Brief Summary of Misusing Emotions in Christian Worship. Is it For Baby Christians?
What's the Value of Emotions in our Christian Worship?
In other words, our emotions regarding parenting are benefit our souls nothing if we do not first ensure that our thoughts, philosophies and practices are in line with how God wants us to raise children. Our emotions regarding romance and sexuality are worthless if they are not first screened through God’s word to make sure we are seeking them God’s way. The same is true for money, success, fame, and so many other pursuits.
All of our emotions are a hindrance to God’s work within us if we don’t first make His priorities our own priorities. Then our emotions will be for God’s will and not our own.
What things do we get emotional about that are against Him?
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Brothers and sisters we must be ever-so-careful that we set our hearts and minds on God’s way; and learn that through His word and prayer over His word. And we must also remain vigilant to not put emotions ahead of truth and righteousness.
Ultimately God has shown me that the man in that Bible study years ago may have been well-meaning, but he was wrong. The warm and fuzzies are not what is required for pleasing worship to God. Remember, he desires those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth!
You think about that and God bless!
To learn more about remaining faithful in deceptive times, read Gary Gilley's "This Little Church Stayed Home"
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