Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven….
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 

      If music is the “universal language” then weeping and laughing are the universal expressions of sorrow or joy. In spite of what many Christians try to avoid, emotions are God-given and not something to avoid like the plague. It’s all part of the human experience in this life. In fact, nowhere in the Bible are we taught to “keep a stiff upper lip” and become as passive as possible. Neither can we find in the Bible the popular myth that all men are “factual” and all women are “emotional.” Therefore the long-held notion that little boys are not to cry when they crash their new bicycle and it is okay to give little girls a pass for crying over everything is not reality. This belief is simply not true! The truth is there are men who are emotional by nature (and who wish they weren’t because of the cultural myth), and there are women who are factual by nature who are not quickly given to tears (and who wonder why they don’t fit into society’s mold.)

      When will we wake up to the fact that culture and tradition should never be the final authority as to what is acceptable behavior on every occasion, or the final authority as to who or what we are to be as individuals, Christians, or a nation, and realize that only Scriptural truths are what should be defining us. Rather than being conformed to the expectations of this world through atheistic “education,” and psychology, or culture, or even church protocol, God has set forth our course thusly: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” Romans 8:29. Are you being conformed to the image of His Son according to the will of God through faith and obedience, regardless of what others think? If so, the closer you draw unto the Lord, the closer the Lord will draw unto you. The more time you spend in His presence in true worship in Spirit and in truth, the more you cast aside your emotional inhibitions based on vanity and pride. No one can enter in the spirit into the Holy of Holies and stand in the presence of God without being emotionally affected. His glorious presence brings us to our knees in humble repentance, brokenness, and awe. The wonder of it all can be so overwhelming that unbidden tears flow. After such an encounter with the Holy Spirit our lives should shine with the light of His glory just as Moses’ face shone from beholding the glory of the Lord, and Jesus must become our all in all.

      That is revival.

      Concerning true worship, A. W. Tozer wrote, “Worship embodies a number of spiritual and emotional factors. Worship is to feel in the heart. I do not apologize for using the word ‘feel.’ As Christians, we are not to be people without feelings. I certainly do not think we should follow our feelings alone, but I believe that if there is no feeling in our hearts, then we are dead.”

      He added, “Certainly, there is danger in relying only upon feelings” to which we totally agree. He then went on to say, “If you woke up one morning with no feeling in your arm at all, you would call a doctor, because anything without feeling you can be quite sure is dead.

      “Real worship is, among other things, a feeling in the heart that is appropriately expressed. You can worship God in any manner appropriate to you by feeling in the heart and expressing that humbling but delightful sense of admiring love. Let your heart dictate your worship to the God you love, and who loves you.” (My Daily Pursuit, pg. 14.)

      Whether you are emotional or not, the Bible says there is “a time to weep.” Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, gives us an example of “a time to weep” in Genesis 23:2, “And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.” What a gripping testimony to the love this righteous man possessed for the woman whom God chose to be the mother of the Jewish nation. Abraham was not displaying some sort of inappropriate emotional weakness, but true depths of sorrow over the loss of his beloved Sarah, who, when it was “a time to laugh” said, “God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me” Genesis 21:6. She even named their promised son “Laughter” which is the meaning of the name Isaac.

      In the Old Testament we read that the Israelites observed “a time to weep” called the days of mourning. Deuteronomy 34:8 says, “And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.” God’s Word records that there was a great deal of mourning for Jacob both in Egypt where he died, and also when his sons carried his body in a great procession out of Egypt back to the land of the Canaanites, (the Promised Land) where Sarah, and Abraham were buried, and they also mourned for him there      If the examples of the commanding Jeremiah, who is known as the weeping prophet, and King David with his emotionally-charged prayers and songs (the Psalms), and the emotional, impulsive Apostle Peter, along with the examples of our Lord Himself who wept at the tomb of Lazarus mean anything to us at all, then who is to say that emotions are to be avoided at any cost? Who created our emotions in the first place? In whose image are we? Who inspired Paul to write to the Romans, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep”? Just who has instilled into the psyche of the Church that in order to please God (and not embarrass Him, or more accurately embarrass ourselves) we must always keep our emotions in check, put forth our best religious face, and pretend that because we are called Christians we “have it all together” no matter what life hands us? How can we be used to bridge the gap between people and God—people who are lost, confused, depressed, discouraged, wounded, heartbroken, bound and oppressed, and those who are slaves to sin and captives of Satan if we refuse to allow God to move us with compassion? If we ask the Lord to give us His heart for a person, the Holy Spirit will do so, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself moved to tears.

      In addition, it is not healthy to stuff powerful emotions, which often leads to depression. I knew a pastor’s wife back in the 80’s who not only was a wise, wonderful Christian woman, but a great Bible teacher as well. She wrote a Bible study on depression, and shared how when her brother committed suicide many years earlier, she never mourned his death. Twelve years later she found herself in a pit of depression and realized that all of her stuffed emotions were surfacing in the form of depression. There is a time to weep, and it is a time given to us by our loving Heavenly Father who numbers our days and years, knows our every thought, and knows what is best for us.

        Interestingly science is discovering what the Bible has told us for thousands of years concerning a “merry heart.” Creation Moments reports, “Proverbs 15:13 ‘A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.’ There are countless scientific studies designed to find out how diet, environment and our habits influence our health. These studies urged us to eat this, not eat that and generally give up bad habits.

      “Now a study of almost 3,000 people between ages 53 and 85 shows that depressed people in this age group are far more likely to die from heart disease than those who show no sign of depression. The study not only measured severe depression, which often requires its own medical care, but also people who reported feeling helpless, hopeless, or apathetic. Study participants were also checked for any signs of coronary heart disease at the start of the study. Then they were tracked for four years. Those with even mild signs of depression died of coronary disease at a much higher rate than those who reported no signs of depression. This was even true for those who had no coronary disease at the beginning of the study. They also noted that the subject’s weight, blood pressure, smoking and alcohol use had no bearing on the results.

      “Scripture reminds us to rejoice in the Lord and His salvation, but only a minority ever do. While severe depression may need medical care, that minority can attest to rarely feeling depressed when they remember what God has given us in His Son, Jesus Christ.”

       In John 11:35 we read two poignant words, “Jesus wept.” The next verse tells us the response of the Jews, “Behold how he loved him!” It was a time to weep. Jesus and the disciples lost a friend. Mary and Martha lost a brother. Lazarus was no doubt mourned by other relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Weeping was a natural response. But, somehow I believe that the tears Jesus shed went far beyond the immediate situation, for Jesus knew that He would raise him from the dead and restore him to his sisters and friends that the people “shouldest see the glory of God” vs. 40:b.

      Standing before the tomb of Lazarus was the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, God Incarnate, the Alpha and the Omega, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and the One who sees (El Roi). In my opinion, He wept not only for Lazarus and His sisters, but in His Spirit, He was looking down through the corridors of time to the awful tragedy that took place in the Garden of Eden when sin and death entered into the world separating mankind from God. I believe He not only wept for Lazarus, but He wept for every unspeakable horror that sin, suffering, death, separation and sorrow brought upon every person born into this world, as well as all of creation. Entombed before Him lay the body of Lazarus in mute witness of the reality of death. I believe at that moment Jesus wept for the whole world. He wept for the unbelief of the people. Think about this: “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, ‘Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me’” vs. 41, 42  [Emphasis added.]

      We can only try to imagine the great hush that fell over the crowd, followed by the indescribable excitement and amazement as Lazarus was raised to life by Jesus! This indeed was “a time to laugh” and rejoice. It was definitely a time to worship God in Spirit and in truth, and a time to believe that Jesus was who He said He was, “the resurrection and the life.” It was undoubtedly a highly emotional time, and a time of genuine conversion for many, complete with soul searching and repentance. However, there are always those in the midst with hard and unbelieving hearts who, in spite of this great miracle went straight to the Pharisees who hated Jesus and told them what Jesus had done. It is amazing to me how even though they recognized that he did “many miracles,” they sought for ways to get rid of Him. The truth is miracles do not necessarily result in faith, but faith results in miracles—the greatest of which is being born again.

      Tozer, remarking on the evangelical church’s fear of emotions, quoting Acts 3:8, “So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God” said: “One cause of the decline in the quality of religious experience among Christians these days is the neglect of the doctrine of the inward witness. Stamping our feet to start the circulation and blowing on our hands to limber them up, we have emerged shivering from the long period of the theological deep-freeze, but the influence of the frosty years is still felt among us to such an extent that the words witness, experience and feeling are cautiously avoided by the rank and file of evangelical teachers. In spite of the undeniable lukewarmness of most of us we still fear that unless we keep a careful check on ourselves we shall surely lose our dignity and become howling fanatics by this time next week. We set a watch upon our emotions day and night lest we become over-spiritual and bring reproach upon the cause of Christ. Which all, if I may say so, is for most of us about as sensible as throwing a cordon of police around a cemetery to prevent a wild political demonstration by the inhabitants.”

       In the past few years there has been a great move to abduct the Church and steer her away from the “straight and narrow” by seducing her onto the “broad path.” This visible, yet subtle shift was made possible because instead of “watching and praying” the sleepy Church began to nibble on the poisoned cake of “the social gospel.” Soon the toxic effects were evidenced everywhere when the doors were opened wide to embrace every foul and unclean bird posing as an expert on all things “Christian.” Gullible sheep tuned in to their favorite “Christian guru” with their “new revelations” promising health and wealth on TV and radio. These wolves in sheep’s clothing were (and are) adept at redefining what true Christianity is, especially through modern, perverted “versions” of the Bible. Gone was the “time to weep” because of sin, and because of lost souls. Now was the time, according to the “new breed” of popular “purpose-driven pimps, “to laugh” and be “positive” as the New Thing promised worldwide revival. Their psychobabble, unscriptural, “Christianity light” book sales rank in the millions. Mainstream churches had to either jump on board and join the “seeker friendly,” “fun” bandwagon or risk dwindling numbers of people and profits. Tragically, multitudes of young people have been, and are being swept away by the destructive tsunami of this unholy, profane, ungodly “pseudo Christianity” with its own revised and updated version of Jesus that neither the Apostles, nor the pilgrim church, nor the martyred saints through the ages would recognize.

      Now we are in the age of “easy-believism” and “cheap grace,” where the so-called “gloom and doom” Christianity is repudiated by the entertaining, contemporary, fun churches. A whole new “Jesus” is being portrayed through the media, in books, and by predators in our pulpits. No longer is the definition of Jesus according to Isaiah 53:3 taken into serious consideration: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Instead, the new Jesus is being portrayed, among other things, as a fun-loving comedian—a laughing “surfer dude” who hangs out with punk rockers, and rides a Harley. This updated version of the “happy” Jesus is portrayed as a carefree regular guy who just wants to “hang out” with us, and who is as worldly (or worse) than we are since this “new Jesus” is ultramodern, has multiple jewel-filled body piercings, is tattooed, smokes and is as far removed as you can get from the sinless, suffering Savior of the Bible. Is this just an updated “reformation” or is it total rebellion and apostasy bordering on blasphemy? My Bible says “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Hebrews 7:26. [Emphasis added.] Paul warned, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” 2 Timothy 3:13. Jesus said,And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” and, “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? Matthew 24:12, Luke 18:8b.

      When Satan laughs, it is a time to weep. But, be encouraged for the time of laughter is coming for God’s children. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God”…..”be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”…. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” Revelation 2:7, 10b;21:4.

      Come quickly, Lord Jesus!