Some of us grew up thinking we were supposed to be stoic, emotionless. The highs never get too high, and the lows never dip too low. It’s not a noble thing, we thought, to wear our emotions on our sleeves.
But to feel deeply and, yes, to show it is part of the biblical story of discipleship. The Book of Acts is full of the Holy Spirit, pushing and prodding the church into action, into life. The Book of Acts is also a book that is full of emotion. It is full of people who have emotions.
There was a great lamentation over the death of Stephen. Paul and Barnabas had no small disagreement about what to do with John Mark. The servant girl Rhoda was so overjoyed at the sound of Peter’s voice that she forgot to let him into the house. Cornelius was terrified at the vision of an angel of God.
The highs were high and the lows were low. And the people in Philip’s house were “weeping and breaking (Paul’s) heart.” And he wished they weren’t – not because Paul hated emotion but, I suppose, because the emotions just might have gotten the best of him.
And he made a vow then and there, a dramatic statement – surely one full of emotion – that he was ready “even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” The people gathered there in Philip’s house probably saw that one coming. They knew Paul and his stubbornness well enough to know he wouldn’t change course.
Does our faith drive an emotional reaction within us? When we see things happen in our lives, do we connect those things to the kingdom of God and feel deeply sometimes about them? Sadness or anger or joy or terror or grim determination? To live our faith means to truly LIVE it – with everything we have, including our bodies, minds, and emotions. This seems to be a lesson I am picking up from this reading of Acts.
Once we accept the gospel and willfully begin to pursue the kingdom of God, we may find ourselves getting emotional at times. We might want to pay attention to those moments. What is driving them? Surely our relationship with God and his church – when we truly love both – is going to make us feel deeply.
Pay attention today to your emotions as they relate to God and his church. Why do you feel as you do?