He that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion. (Jonathan Edwards)
Conservative or Charismatic?
In my early days as a Christian in a more conservative expression, emotions and tenderness (in worship for e.g.) to do with God was to be avoided at all costs
More recently, the expression of my faith has shifted to being somewhat more charismatic. And for a time, tenderness and emotion was the bees knees, and there was something wrong with me if I didn’t feel love towards God.
Either positions seem a little unbalanced, and lately I’m finding that in balance, or rather in having a fullness of both, a synergy exists.
Loving God requires loving self in a healthy way
And I think it has to do with a clearer understanding of self and the human heart, in which there is a freedom to not judge itself, or be caught up in itself. It’s a position that seems to be able to stand back from a heart that feels nothing during worship – where the lips and mind might just be on autopilot, and not judge my spirituality or find my identity in that state. Probably more often than not, this is my heart posture, not just in a time of worship, but throughout the day – a cold and dry heart.
And yet understanding and giving my heart the space to be as it is – dry and stony without judgment, brings an incredible peace
For the reality is, while I probably don’t feel it most of the time, the reality – that I know to be true in my mind is that: God loves me, and leads me well and is worthy of all my heart my soul and my mind in worship or otherwise.
I deviate here a bit here but – my observation is that the human heart generally has no pure love to give in and of itself (an observation that comes from looking at the only heart I can – mine). And when you experience the pure and unadulterated love of God that has no agenda (unlike a human’s) you are then able to love yourself in the right way (giving you space to simply be as you are without judgment or shame or guilt or condemnation), which then leads to loving God back and loving others in a similar purer fashion.
A Fullness of Mind and Heart for sustainable faith
And somehow, I am able to use my mind to move my heart into a tender place. Somehow we are able to reboot the operating system of the heart, and in steadfastness and perseverance, grace finds me, and a love finds my heart and suddenly the tenderness flows – not because of the constancy or the depth of my love for God, but rather as a response to who God is, and the depth and constancy of his love. If ever there was a heart-posture that is sustainable – this is it I think.
And we shall see a generation that does not have a faith based on either emotion OR intellect
A faith that is not prone to the ups and downs of emotion
Nor the limitations, shortsightedness and dryness of intellect
But, knowing the failings of both in the human arena,
A faith that is able to operate in a fullness of both
A fullness of truth and rationality and yet a fullness of passion and intimacy.
And we shall see a generation fully alive, in mind and heart, who will love their Saviour and King with all their mind, body, soul and strength.