Acts 13:52 – And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
The worldly man knows about the pursuit of pleasure. He chases it in bars, hunting and fishing trips, casinos, strip clubs, golf courses, and football season. When it comes to church the attitude is more like “don’t get too excited”. Excitement and joy in church is often written off as frivolous exploits into religious extremism and fanaticism. That is really strange if you think about it; being happy in the pursuit of carnal pleasure in earthly things is acceptable and healthy, the pursuit of joy and excitement in church is treated as weird and totally unacceptable. I wonder if that’s why so many people are abusing meds and alcohol, maybe it is the result of misdirected pursuits of joy. Jonathan Edwards wrote extensively about revival and the pursuit of spiritual joy. Here are some of his comments about excitement in church.
“Though there are false affections in religion, and affections that in some respects are raised high, that are flashy, yet undoubtedly there are also true, holy and solid affections; and the higher these are raised, the better: and if they are raised to an exceeding great height, they are not to be thought meanly of or suspected, merely because of their great degree, but on the contrary to be esteemed and rejoiced in. Charity, or divine love, is in Scripture represented as the sum of all the religion of the heart; but this is nothing but an holy affection: and therefore in proportion as this is firmly fixed in the soul, and raised to a great height, the more eminent a person is in holiness. Divine love, or charity, is represented as the sum of all the religion of heaven, and that wherein mainly the religion of the church in its more perfect state on earth shall consist… therefore the higher this holy affection is raised in the church of God, or in a gracious soul, the more excellent and perfect is the state of the church, or a particular soul.”
So when was the last time you got criticized for being too on fire or being too expressive in your worship of God? Maybe our tendency to back off and but a lid on our affections in church is really holding us back. I think the desire to live for God outside of church springs from our affections that we have and show toward the Lord. So I say don’t hold back, let your love of God be released in demonstrations of affection.