More Than Hype“By allowing God’s truth to build and define our character and faith, we can have an authentic connection with Jesus.“
When Emotions Fade After A Conference, Retreat, Concert or Any Hype Church Event…
Humans are very emotional beings. As a result, we can often fall prey to hazardous emotional tendencies, which tends to lead many Christians to a shallow kind of Christianity. One that usually pairs with a megachurch, a large conference, a lengthy retreat, a hype concert, etc.
Even though we live in a culture that claims to value logic and reason, it’s striking how often we rely on our emotions to provide assurance about the most important things in our life. Especially when it comes to our relationship with God.
I’m not taking away from those emotional, intimate encounters with Jesus—those are necessary from time to time, but when our relationship with God is centered on emotionalism, it can be really problematic in our walks with Him. If you are feeling like you are on a rollercoaster of being on fire for God one week, and not really “feeling” it the next, you could also be stuck in a cycle of carnal Christianity. The word “carnal” comes from the Greek word “sarkikos,” which translates as “fleshly.” This “carnal” Christianity can take hold when we use our feelings to shape our views about God, when we place emotions ahead of a real relationship with Him or when we are placing our flesh before the Holy Spirit.
Carnal Christianity is real, and emotions can become a serious idol so much so that you can be left questioning your salvation in the first place. And for the sake of transparency, this was a major weakness in my own life for several years.
The reality is I had to learn that, deep down, the health of the Christian and the church is not dependent on how I feel on any given day. It is dependent on sound theology. While knowledge without real understanding is pointless, so is zeal without knowledge. As easy as it would be, we cannot just be all emotion. That’s exactly what this generation seems to care the most about. And some days still, it feels like I’m right out in front of that emotional parade … especially as an Enneagram 4.
It’s a tough balance. If you read Ecclesiastes, you see that we are meant to be emotional beings! There is space for anything under the sun in there! Crying, whining, mourning—all of the above. Regardless, as much as I look at other Scriptures, emotionalism may be a characteristic of healthy humanity, but it is not a characteristic of a healthy faith.
If you’ve ever been to a wild church service, you know exactly how difficult it is to separate the truth from the high of emotionalism. Hearing the music, being inspired by a great preacher, listening to others shout “Amen”—it can all be a very moving experience. That isn’t wrong.
The issue arises when we confuse emotion with sincere worship. The “high” connected with it can train us to feel as though the emotion is a requirement for worship. Emotions during worship are not inherently bad, in fact, they are often driven by our genuine awe of God and gratefulness for His love. Our affection for God is sparked when we are around other believers and watch God operate in tangible ways. Although emotions will always flow from our experience of God—they won’t ever be the source.
When feelings are the source of our relationship with God, each emotional “high point” is generally followed by a very sobering “crash.” I can’t be the only one that thinks every conference or exciting church service should come with a warning about returning home and feeling depleted. This emotional high will not ever become your new normal, no matter how hard you try.
Building A Strong Faith
While those conferences, services and retreats are an incredible supplement for your walk with God, you need to understand that they are insufficient on their own. My relationship with God is not defined by them any longer and yours shouldn’t be either. The truth is that relying solely on fantastic experiences to create a connection with Jesus is likened to running a race with your legs tied.
By allowing God’s truth to build and define our character and faith, we can have an authentic connection with Jesus. Bright lighting and popular speakers can never develop a true, lasting love for God in us.
The reason is this: after the conference high fades, you may ask yourself, “Did Jesus really enter my heart since I don’t feel as excited about His presence today?” Doubt creeps in and the enemy uses that emotional high against us.
Emotions can’t always be trusted. There are many times when I scream out loud at myself, “My emotions and hormones have to bow at the cross of Christ! They do not have the final say!” I have to remind myself that they are not the end all, be all. Our emotions can be a great blessing when we submit to God, but they are not a yardstick for determining what is real.
Therefore, it’s crucial to base your salvation, as well as other components of your Christian walk and relationship with Jesus, on what the Bible says about you rather than how you feel in the current moment. If you believe that jumping from one emotional high to the next will keep you in tune with God, know that it will not be enough.
In John 6:25–27, Jesus criticized a large gathering of his own supporters for following him for reasons that had nothing to do with experiencing His real majesty and beauty … they were just overjoyed by seeing Jesus perform miracles.
They didn’t see the glory of God—they just saw what He could do.
We don’t want to just see God for what He can give us. We don’t want to fall into a cycle of carnal Christianity where we chase after what makes us feel happy, rather the things that give God glory. We have to focus on building a solid, real, foundation of our faith. If the foundation of a house is solid, it will not fall (Matthew 7:25). So, when the house of our spiritual life and our battle against sin begins to crumble or wither, we must ask ourselves, “Why? What is my faith actually built on?”
The explanation is straightforward: we didn’t really experience God. We experienced a packed crowd and high energy.
And friend, we need to experience God. We need a fresh glimpse of Him. And the only way to do that is through His Word. It’s not about all the extra fluff; it’s about the simplicity of the Gospel. That’s what our foundation needs to be built on.
When emotions fade after a conference, you can have hope. There is such good news still.
Your emotions fading has nothing to do with our standing with God. If you’ve repented and accepted Jesus Christ, your emotions could absolutely plummet, but His presence in your life will never follow suit.
When the lights fade, and the curtains close, will you choose to remain faithful? Even in the spiritually dry times? Will you choose to believe the truth of God’s Word over your emotions?
Jonni is an author and founder of the digital marketing company Sunday Morning Marketing, where she offers customized services to help clients build their unique brand. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications. Jonni and her husband make their home on the East Coast, where she can often be found hanging out with friends, drinking coffee or playing basketball. Visit her online at jonninicole.com.