That “Warm & Fuzzy” Feeling Must Die!

fuzzyducksOver the past few years I have wanted to experience a special feeling during church. I wanted the sermon to hit me. I wanted to feel true repentance during confession and even wanted the pastor to look directly at me during the absolution. I wanted the readings to be short and sweet and to the point. I wanted that “warm and fuzzy” feeling in every part of the divine service. I wanted to feel it as I walked into the sanctuary. I wanted to see the smiling faces and hear the friendly greetings. I wanted the guy in front of me to smell good. I wanted my kids to sit still. I wanted to sing the “Gloria in Excelsis” and not “This is the Feast”. I wanted to like all the hymns we were singing. The divine service hasn’t even started and I’m already making it all about me. I wanted it all. Instead of accepting the gifts of God with humility and repentance, I wanted to feel something. I received the gifts of God like a little child who only wants toys for his birthday but then then is disappointed when he ends up getting clothes or money for college. I don’t know what’s good for me. I tried to seek comfort in my feelings, instead of the Word of God and the Sacraments. It’s a continual battle against the enthusiast in me.

I first started realizing my rampant enthusiasm during communion. Some Sundays I would be very emotional while receiving the true body and blood of Christ. Then the next Sunday I’d be tending to my children or I wouldn’t “feel it” like I did the previous week. This caused me to question myself and worse yet, question the gift I was receiving during communion. The devil loves playing around with our emotions. Like a teenager who just got dumped our emotions take control. Our emotions try to dictate our thoughts and actions. Inserting emotions into what God has already perfectly given us in his Word and Sacraments are works of our sin and the devil. Our attempt to insert our emotions only downplays the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us all.

We need to try to leave our emotions at the door before entering church. In many situations our emotions are truly a gift of God. My opinion is that they do not belong in church and can interfere. Can the Word of God and the Sacraments make us emotional? Sure. However, we need to let the gifts of God that we receive in his Word & Sacraments and not our emotions lead and direct us in worship and faith. Feeling emotional during church has no bearing on what the church provides. The pure Word of God and the Sacraments are true without our added emotions. The Lutheran Confessions use the term “Enthusiast” to describe fanatics who believed that God spoke to them without the Word of God and would save them without the Sacraments. God does not speak to us through our emotions; nor is there any comfort in our emotions. The Word of God gives us comfort. Our Baptism into his life, death and resurrection provides true comfort and faith. Eating and drinking His true body and blood sustains and comforts us in our fight against our sin, the devil and the attacks of an overly emotional world.

Emotions during church are a hard thing to fight, so let us all focus on the cross of Jesus Christ. On that cross Jesus took our sinful, selfish emotions and actions replacing them with his perfect sinless substitute. Instead of showing our Father in heaven our emotions as a confession of our faith we confess Jesus Christ. In Christ, true love and emotion are shown to God. God has shown us the same true love and emotion back by sending his Son in the flesh to take away the sin of the world. In Jesus Christ, our emotions are shown as spotless and righteous. So go ahead, kill that “warm and fuzzy” feeling you so long to feel. God doesn’t want it or need it. He has everything he wants and needs in Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

 


Comments

That “Warm & Fuzzy” Feeling Must Die! — 23 Comments

  1. My goodness! Lutherans are already accused of being the “frozen chosen”!
    (Not where you live?)

  2. As a member of the human race, being created by God with both an ability to reason and an ability to feel emotions, I am affected by both at times, and none of us can change the way we are put together. One can strive to control emotions, and the result is to channel our humanity and become too dispassionate. There is a balance we need to strive for. After all, did Jesus not express equal amounts of reason and feeling! When the Bible says, “Jesus wept,” I believe it. When Jesus experienced joy, grief, anger, love, it is plainly indicated that the humanity in people is normal. I still find myself moved by singing the old hymns, watching children, reading the psalms, enjoying a sunset, and my academic side enjoys the sensible and intellectual stimulation of the carefully written exposition. By all means, I will continue to feel “warm and fuzzy” at times, and looking back at almost 70 years of life, I have had my share of emotions. Praise God.

  3. I don’t care what we’re accused of being, Nathan does make some good points. Perhaps, though, it would have been better to not say the feelings must be denied or left out of the service, but simply that we must be diligent and aware of what role our emotions play. The emotions themselves aren’t bad, but when we look to those emotions for our security and proof of our salvation, that’s where it gets dangerous.

  4. “We need to try to leave our emotions at the door before entering church. In many situations our emotions are truly a gift of God. My opinion is that they do not belong in church and can interfere.”

    I think you need to be careful here. As God has given me “my reason and all my senses,” emotions are a gift from God just as much as “my eyes, ears, and all my members.” Not only that but He “still preserves them.” While you acknowledge (at least in some situations) that emotions area a gift from God, a blanket statement above like you made makes a condition of God’s gift to us. You’re right to point out the risk of Enthusiasm or otherwise following the Old Adam to destruction. But you’re wrong to conclude that emotions “do not belong in church…” I find an irony there, and maybe I’m way off, that we go to church to receive Christ for us, both true God and true Man…and He showed emotion, didn’t He? How do we change ourselves when we hit the church door?

    While emotions were or are a stumbling block for you, they may not be for me. While emotions may become a stumbling block, the problem is not our emotions (which is a gift), the problem is sin and our Old Adam. I think the rest of your article is pretty good.

    I’m obviously not a pastor so take my opinions with that in mind.

    *Yes, Vanessa, you beat me to it and much more concisely

  5. I agree with you. Emotions are a part of each of us. I guess the trick is to find a sense of balance between emotions and reason. I never want to lose the emotion of loving God.

  6. I wanted to sing the “Gloria in Excelsis” and not “This is the Feast”.

    Me, too! Me, too!

    I find the confession inadequate in DS IV
    but we have the Nunc Dimittis… (no other option). 8-^)
    Alleluia!

    @helen #1
    I forgot the “Smiley”! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Re: the “frozen chozen”: the comment was about Minnesotans (and there was reason).
    Down here in Texas, the “reason” is the the AC is turned up too high. 😉

  7. “We need to try to leave our emotions at the door before entering church. In many situations our emotions are truly a gift of God. My opinion is that they do not belong in church and can interfere.”

    Is there something in the Bible about this?  Respectfully, I never heard this before.  The Bible seems to be full of highly emotional worship e.g. Psalms.    Was there any emotion in Acts 2?

    “Pr. Wilken: Should we be anti-feeling?

    Pr. Weedon: No. When the feelings are there enjoy them, as they are in every other part of your life. You know? And when they are not there, don’t sweat it. They’ll come back.”

  8. John Rixe :
    “We need to try to leave our emotions at the door before entering church. In many situations our emotions are truly a gift of God. My opinion is that they do not belong in church and can interfere.”
    Is there something in the Bible about this?

    I stated it was my opinion. If you don’t agree that’s fine. I’m glad we can talk about it as brothers and sisters in Christ. The main point of the article was to try to convey my problem with mistakenly putting emphasis on my emotions during church and not in the truth of the Word of God and the Sacraments. I was at church this morning – great sermon, received the body and blood of Christ and there were a few times when the Word struck me even made me teary eyed. But next time if these feelings don’t come I need to check myself and remember the while it’s great to have these emotions during church lack of emotion doesn’t make the gifts God gives us less true. That’s where I personally can fall into a trap.

    Maybe it would have been better to say “I need to leave my emotions at the door” – it’s important for me personally to focus on Christ and God’s grace and not on my emotional experience.

    Emotions are great people I’m not trying to say they are bad. Just to say don’t look to them as a judge of your day in church. – I get emotional seeing my kids grow up and realizing how much I love them. If i wasn’t emotional about loving them…does that mean i don’t love them? Of course not. If i don’t get emotional at church does that mean I don’t love Jesus or Jesus doesn’t love me. Of course not.

    As for for things in the Bible about this – I’d ask a Pastor to step in and comment.

  9. Nathan, I think your article was very well done. I did not take away the thought that
    emotions should be denied. Keep writing!
    Zona

  10. Helen, my sister says that her Presbyterian church is God’s Frozen Chosen even in almost always warm southern California.

  11. I’m hooked on a feeling
    I’m high on believing
    That you’re in love with me

    This old song lyric sure captures in a different way Mr. Redman’s solid article which demonstrates the problem of the centrality of “emotions” as the goal in worship these days: “high on believing”. For instance, too much of cowo style worship is angling to be “hooked on a feeling”. Emotions become the engine in the train followed by faith, as an old Billy Graham graphic portrayed. What happens “when the thrill is gone”? Some folks will surmise so is faith. The goal of worship is not to elicit a feeling, but the administration of God’s gifts through Word and Sacrament. When we are seeking our feelings in worship as crucial, instead of the Lord seeking us and us His Kingdom, then the Bible has another word for that: idolatry. Maybe, Mr. Redman, you were too nice in your article!

  12. “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (‭Isaiah‬ ‭58‬:‭13-14‬)

    “The goal of worship is not to elicit a feeling” – agreed.

  13. I feel (well I know you don’t like this word) this post is trying to make me feel guilty and bad for feeling emotion during my church’s confessional Lutheran service. Sorry, I don’t buy it. Emotions are like circumcision–some people have it and some people don’t—but what matters is not circumcision or uncircumcision, but a new creature. Surprising how often this needs to be said.

  14. I think there is a need for some balance in assessing the relationship between feelings (emotions) and dispassionate reason. The two are often together at the same time, as well as in collision, pulling us imperfect beings in different directions. Even the coldest individual you know, one who appears without any emotional attachment to anyone or any cause, will usually be suppressing emotions in a way that can do psychological damage, and the inherent emotional baggage will indeed be channeled to another outlet. I realize the point made by some bloggers has been that we should not approach worship where feelings are central. Yes, we all get that point. But this point, no matter how adroitly articulated, does nothing, absolutely nothing, to quell the emotional spirit and nature of people. Since God expresses emotions and feelings, as well as reason, He has created man with these qualities. Without a balance of these inborn traits, we shall not be men or women, or children…..but merely robots or highly dysfunctional humans.

  15. @Pr. Schroeder #13
    It seems all those commenting so far agree with fighting against Enthusiasm. We just don’t want to fall into the ditch on the other side of the narrow Way: one may start to look toward their inner Spock as evidence of faith!

  16. @Chris Atwood #15

    Chris:

    I heard it best described as “Faith leads to emotions. But emotions do not lead to faith.” What we have with the contemporary worship mysticism is the latter, pumping everyone up and getting them excited so that they will want to believe.

    For those of you who remember 19th century history, sounds an awful lot like the false Revivalist preaching that went on in the early part of the century. Yes, there are a few differences. But the theme is the same, just transposed to a different key.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  17. R.D. :@Pr. Schroeder #13 It seems all those commenting so far agree with fighting against Enthusiasm. We just don’t want to fall into the ditch on the other side of the narrow Way: one may start to look toward their inner Spock as evidence of faith!

    FYI: Leonard Nimoy got Spock’s Vulcan salute from the sign made by the kohanim when they gave the Aaronic Benediction at the synagogue when he was a child.

  18. Chris Atwood :I feel (well I know you don’t like this word) this post is trying to make me feel guilty and bad for feeling emotion during my church’s confessional Lutheran service. Sorry, I don’t buy it.

    I didn’t get that impression at all.

  19. Your article contains two dangerous errors:

    The first is merely practical. The surest way of putting an undue focus on our emotions is to try and do something impossible with them. The most popular method is, of course, unnaturally turning them into our guide, but trying to discard them altogether in certain circumstances is no less foolhardy and no less counter-productive. They will be with you in church no matter what you do. The more effort you pour into pretending otherwise, the less your focus will be on Christ.

    The second error is theological. Why do you think our emotions don’t need to be brought into the church where they can be washed by the Word? You don’t seem to think they’re so clean that they don’t need it. Are they so dirty that even Christ cannot clean them? Or perhaps they are so powerful that they can ward Him off? Did Christ not die for the whole man–including our emotions? Was His work as a man incomplete because He left that part out? You go to the divine service to receive, and the whole of your being participates in that reception–including your emotions. Thanks be to God, because the whole of our beings needs it!

    Enthusiasm is indeed bad, and your point as restated in your comment @ 9 is quite correct. The original post said a lot more than that, though. I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but there’s no need to embrace new errors to help guard ourselves against old ones.

  20. Chris –

    One of the best atheists I know (I am working with him nonetheless), began with your premise:

    “I feel (well I know you don’t like this word) this post is trying to make me feel guilty and bad for feeling emotion during my church’s confessional Lutheran service. Sorry, I don’t buy it. Emotions are like circumcision–some people have it and some people don’t—but what matters is not circumcision or uncircumcision, but a new creature. Surprising how often this needs to be said.”

    When Christ said “I desire not sacrifice, but compassion,” He was most certainly justifying “emotions.” However, “what I feel” is most often wrong, a point none of us wishes to admit, as we hate admitting our sinfulness, as in Eden, and everything since has proven. Said compassion is rooted in the Cross, where many are called but few chosen.

    I get emotional big-time chanting the Divine Liturgy. But that is a reaction to the objective truth the words I sing, not a beginning of a reason to worship. Circumcision has nothing to do with the issue, although to the one getting a rather painful operation will attest, one does get a little emotional when the scalpel does its work. It hurts. It’s supposed to.

    Holy Baptism covers the “new creature.” That is a foregone conclusion. It is nothing of emotions, and everything of the promises of God in Christ. My reaction to Holy Baptism performed before me might cause any number of emotions within myself, including tears of joy, but my tears of joy are neither the cause of Baptism nor its intended result. Those are due to the objective fact and result of Holy Baptism – at the font, a soul was just buried with Christ, and shall rise to a new life.

    There is a thoroughly objective aspect to the faith that no emotion can engender or touch.

    Pax

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.