Some evangelists are too emotional for me.
They think their way with words, the clever way they coin a phrase and how they say what it is they say is what pulls people out of their seats and down the aisle.
Like anyone else, I love to feel a strong presence of God, and so I don’t mind getting emotional. But I want it to come from hearing God speak to me from within the message, not from the lone theatrics of the speaker. If the message is sincere, I’ll hear Jesus. I’m disappointed when someone uses my relationship with God to leave me dangling on the ledge while the speaker shows how well his words can dance. I love the emotions that flow from the praises and I love the promises that are kept to help soothe people’s suffering. When we’re ‘having church’ and find ourselves holding hands, I love the warm connection that easily eases our pain and in short order causes us to forget we had a pain. But, when it’s all over and the singing stops, when we say “amen” and eyes come to light, I don’t want to be left on a ledge not knowing what to do or where to go. I’m afraid of promises that are without substance… of mountains built on flimsy puffs of air. I’m afraid of that which hasn’t the strength to hold me. Isaiah 41:10 is telling me to not be afraid, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
So… please, while I’m feeling safe and while you have my attention … tell me about Jesus. Tell me how He has worked miracles in your life and in the lives of others you know. I like to hear how Jesus tells others about the Father. I love to hear how others tell me about Jesus… and how they spend their time together.
That’s what I want to hear.
The way Steven Mosley tells of Jesus, a mental image is formed and you can actually believe you feel what Jesus felt. For example, from his book, “Secrets of Jesus’ Touch” Steven writes, “The bits of branch and dried mud, falling on his head in that crowded room, surely must have been annoying. The noise of four men furiously digging through the roof overhead must have been distracting. After all, Jesus was revealing the essence of the kingdom of heaven.” Steven Mosley doesn’t step back and just give a record of what happened, he points out that more was happening than what people could see, they were feeling a variety of emotions, too. For one thing, they were feeling irate and confused watching debris fall on Jesus’ head as the men lowered a man on a mat toward the spot where Jesus stood. The man on the mat was jumping his place and going to the head of the line. He was moving in front of everyone else.
Jesus could have seen what the others saw, an insensitive man being rude and presumptuous. He could have identified “pathetic desperation” and pointed out the man’s obvious impatience. But, Mosley said, what Jesus saw instead was faith. “Standing in an impromptu shaft of light in which the dirt and leaves still floated down,” Jesus focused on their faith. It wasn’t just the man on the mat who had faith. Just think how much faith it would take to be the ones digging through the roof. Where would that man on the roof be without the faith of his four friends?
Where would your friends be without the faith that’s inside of you?
In summary, let me say, go ahead and preach with all the emotion you want. I can take it. Theatrics in the pulpit is different than spirit-filled worship but I can take whatever you throw at me. I may just be a little white boy who is filling this position as an associate pastor in an all-black Church of God on the south side of Atlanta, but yes sir… I can take it. My good friend RC Banks starts preaching at 10 am and sometimes we go on up until 2 or 3 in the afternoon. We sing and we praise the Lord, we march around the inside of the church and jump barriers we placed in the aisles to indicate we were busting barriers in our own lives and then we enact crossing the Jordan river. During this period several people would be in tears and crying out and we would gather around these people, place hands on them and pray. The other pastors and I would be ringing wet, coats removed, tie undone and shirt tails out. The sisters wore these fantastic hats, fanned themselves with one hand and had a tambourine in the other. The pastor would place his hand on our forehead hard enough to knock most people out and yell, “Heeeaal”. Since the sisters always wore dresses, their modesty and dignity was upheld by wrapping the thin blankets (kept on hand on the front pew) around the waists of the sisters who would end up falling out as they spoke in tongues.
Oh yes, I can take it alright… “Give me that old time religion”.
But, in all my emotionally driven praise, I don’t care how out-of-the-box it gets as long as what comes through is spirit-led, not theatrics, and above all else, I’m able to feel Jesus’ touch.
So, please… tell me about Jesus.