The church lights dim, the band files onto the stage, and as the pastor finishes praying, they begin to play the song, “How Great Is Our God.” All around me, people rise to their feet, close their eyes, and lift their hands into the air as they sing along. The atmosphere is one of a profound emotional experience, but I stand there alone, hands at my sides, observing the people around me, unable to join in or truly comprehend the scene I’m witnessing. I’ve never felt this emotional outpouring, and I wonder, as I have many times before, Am I missing something in my relationship with God?
Is There Something Wrong with My Faith?
Modern Protestant spirituality tends to lean very heavily on feeling a personal, intimate, and emotional connection to God, whether in worship services or in the Christian daily life experience. Contemporary praise music, with its vivid metaphors and emphasis on repetition of key phrases, is often accompanied by a pounding bass line, what my roommate calls “holy piano” (spiritual background music that makes anything seem relevant and emotionally driven), and an encouragement to rise and experience the act of worship.
In sermons, small groups, discipleship meetings, and even conversation between friends, phrases are often thrown around that emphasize that emotion in one’s faith:
“How has God spoken to you lately?”
“Have you felt the Spirit leading you in this direction?”
“I feel so on fire for the Lord!”1