What place does emotion have in the building of Christ’s Church? Christ helps us answer this question in our text today.
Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Word had gotten around that he was someone to watch. This man had performed miracles like changing water into wine, healing a paralytic, and feeding five thousand people from five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus announced that he was the Messiah. All of this made him a very popular person. The people’s emotions were running high, and they believed that he could be the One who would deliver them from the Romans, under whose jurisdiction they were living.
In every generation, Christianity has touched the emotions of many people. Listening to the preaching of God’s Word, many have been convicted of their sinfulness. When Christ offered them the forgiveness of their sins, there was new joy in their hearts. Just sing some of our hymns and we feel that emotion. “Just as I am Without One Plea” expresses the person’s sinfulness. “Amazing grace; how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!” expresses the joy of a forgiven sinner.
Emotion plays an important role in building Christ’s Church, but Christ does not build his Church on emotion. Listen to this verse in our text: “Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.”
Jesus knows what is in the hearts of people. As long as He performs his miracles and says what they want him to say, they would stay with him. Yet, when he begins to talk to them about service and taking up their cross and following him, they would be gone.
William Barclay writes, “Jesus did not want followers unless they knew and clearly accepted that which was involved in following him. He refused to cash in on a moment’s popularity. Jesus was a leader who refused to ask people to accept him until they knew what accepting meant. He insisted that people should know what they were doing. He knew people could be swept away in emotion and then back out when they discovered what the decision meant. He knows how humans hunger for sensation. He wanted not a crowd of cheering people who knew not what, but a small company who knew what they were doing and were prepared to follow to the end.”
Serving Jesus is a fruit of our faith. Salvation is not accomplished by our works, assuming that since we have done so many good deeds, Jesus will bow to our us in gratitude. Salvation is not His Kingdom on our terms.
Jesus’ question – Who do you say that I am? – was answered by Peter. He replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” To this response Jesus said to Peter, “Upon your confession I will build my church” (Matthew 16:13-30). The Church is built on Christ. The Holy Spirit uses people who are not swept away by emotion in building His Church. He uses those stand firm on this confession. Though Peter fell into sin and could be very emotional, he had a faith that was built on the rock – Jesus Christ. Peter was a man whom Jesus could use.
We have a temptation to find a church and a preacher who says what we want to hear, whether it is biblical or not. Church shopping is popular in our day. We are tempted to find a church that fits all our wants from the time the service is scheduled, to the music that is sung, to the way we are treated by the preacher or other members of the congregation. The big questions receive secondary consideration. Questions such as,
. Was God’s Word proclaimed?
. Was the way of salvation made clear?
. Was the appeal made to the lost to come to Christ?
. Was the believer fed with spiritual food?
This disease of satisfying our own spiritual likes is found in every denomination, and it affects most congregations. Roger Fredrikson says this: “We are surrounded by subtle pressures to settle for our kind of Messiah. The religious star system calls for agents and contracts and an amazing variety of advanced publicity. The narcissistic gospel promises to solve all my hangups and problems. It’s almost like a cocaine fix. Spectacular religious tv specials make all our local church affairs seem drab by contrast. And the show must get bigger and more dazzling al the time.”
What place does emotion have in the building of Christ’s Church?
Emotions are not the foundation. Christ is the foundation. Emotions such as joy, peace, and love are fruits of living in Christ’s Kingdom, in whom we have our salvation. Amen.