It is easy to start to forget how great God is. Now, I don’t mean intellectually. I think most people who are familiar with the Bible can understand logically that God is so great and powerful, Almighty, holy, holy, holy, and all the other adjectives you can list. He is the Creator and the Sustainer of the whole universe. Logically, most Christians would agree wholeheartedly.
But how about when it comes to our emotions? How often are we driven to our knees in wonder at the God who made us and loves us? At the might of a God who can form the stars (Ps 8) and care for the flowers of the field (Matt 7)? How often do we feel the greatness and mercy of our God, and cry out with John Newton “amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saves a wretch like me?”
I can argue with you (convincingly, I hope) about God’s greatness and mercy, and think the Bible explains this loudly and clearly. But I confess that often I don’t feel it as I should. I am not as overcome as I should be. I am not as moved as the logic should move me.
(I am from Northern European stock, and my congregation is predominantly made up of people from Asian cultural backgrounds. Neither I nor most of my congregation are naturally very emotional people! So I realize I am writing this article to myself more than anyone else.)
As I have been preaching through Deuteronomy 4 I have been struck once more at God’s greatness and mercy. The people hearing that for the first time knew full well God’s might, as they were standing on land they recently took from a king who was far mightier than they were. They experienced first-hand the power of God; they saw it. But Moses warns even them not to forget God’s greatness and love when they enter the land and settle down and become comfortable.
But that was not the experience of many generations of God’s people. Most did not see the Exodus, the fire on Mt Sinai, or the miracles of Elijah and Jesus. For most, these are accounts recorded for them rather than things they lived through. But they still demonstrate God’s power and mercy and should be read and understood and responded to.
How can we be moved emotionally as we should be? How can we better appreciate, at a heart level, what God has done for us? Here’s some ideas:
- Songs. Christian music, either in a church setting or outside it, cannot help but be emotional by nature. Of course, we should respond to the great content of the gospel put to song, not just a clever tune, but music can make even the most unemotional Christian connect with the wonder of the gospel.
- Meditate on God’s word more and more deeply. That doesn’t mean meditate in the Eastern mystical sense of emptying your mind. Fill your mind with the gospel, with the Bible passage you are reading, and pray and think about it. Reflect on what it means for you, and praise God for that.
- Community. There is nothing like meeting and praying with other Christians to remind and excite you that God is so good, better than you often think. And to hear of God’s work in other people is encouraging too; He is living and active even now despite what the media tells us.
For me, the songs ‘How Deep the Father’s Love for us’ and ‘And Can It Be’ alway stirs my emotions up, as do good, faithful explanations of Bible passages in sermons.
We don’t need to be afraid of emotion as if it is a sign of shallow theology in some way. Having our understanding of God right must lead, at least some of the time, to us simply praising Him!
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