Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Expressing the inexpressible

I am filled with awe that my niece was baptized into Christ this weekend and that she got to share in an exciting day of fellowship, singing, and good will with close to a hundred other believers from all over Southern California. It's amazing how joy in Christ can be so contagious. I tried to explain some of this to my kids the other day, but unfortunately words fall far short. After all, the emotions tied into our faith are inexpressible:
    1 Peter 1:9 - ...even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy... (NIV)
Just because our joy is inexpressible doesn't mean we shouldn't try to express it, though. In fact, I've noticed that attempts to express the inexpressible are often the most effective at communicating our faith in the most genuine terms possible--from the heart.

I would say that it baffles me that some Christians stifle their own joy by thinking that emotions are worthless, except that I've been guilty of it myself. The truth is that God made us with both an intellectual, rational side, and an emotional side. Our response to the good news of Christ will be based on a combination of both. Some people are wired to respond to more of one than the other.

Perhaps some people confuse the cause with the effect or insist that our emotions only belong in one category. Are emotions the cause of our faith, or the effect of it? I would have to say both. One feeds the other. The people listening to Peter's words on the day of Pentecost were cut to the heart when he told them they had crucified the Son of God.

The deeply felt emotions of those first 3,000 souls, along with their newfound intellectual acknowledgement of who Jesus Christ was, caused a movement that has reverberated through all of human history for the last 2,000 years.

Just as we're cut to the heart and moved to action when we recognize how good the good news really is, that new faith also leads to deeper emotions (and intellectual knowledge, by the way) in a reciprocal fashion:

    Acts 16:34 - The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God--he and his whole family. (NIV)
King David wrote extensively about the joy of knowing God:
    Psalm 4:6-7 - ...Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?" Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. (NIV)
    Psalm 28:7- The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (NIV)
How much more joyful should we be now in the Christian era knowing that His Son came from heaven to earth to show the way for us? In fact, our joy and peace should be so full, we should be overflowing with hope:
    Romans 15:13 - May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
Always remember to relish your joy in Christ. Remember that no one can steal it without you letting go of it yourself. As one good friend put it, emotions aren't everything, but I've learned that they certainly aren't nothing.

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