Head and Heart: Intellectualism, Emotionalism, and Worship

If true worship were a road, it would have two idolatrous ditches: intellectualism and emotionalism. As sinners we inevitably end up in one of these ditches, bent toward the head or toward the heart, and apart from Christ. The heart is deceptively wicked and the head is full of smoke. Either of these alone leads one dreadfully unsatisfied.

The Christian, however, isn’t stuck in a loop bouncing from the head to the heart; choosing between some sort of intellectualism or emotionalism. Jesus came and gave us new hearts and His mind. And now, by grace, we are called to employ both our head and our heart completely.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. “ (Mark 12:30)

Worship, for believers, is found at the beautiful union of strength and soul, head and heart. To worship God is to have a mind set solely on Him and a heart that is full to the brim with desire for Him alone.

For His Own Sake, He Has Loved You

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” – Isaiah 48:9-11

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” – Matthew 10:37-39

What does it mean to be worthy of Jesus?

Our God is a jealous God and His love is a fiercely jealous love. If a person’s so called love of God is in competition with even good and proper things (i.e. father, mother, spouse, children) Jesus says we are not worthy to be His disciples, and in the end, those with a divided heart, and a compromised love, lose everything.

But the beauty of the scripture we read from Isaiah and songs like “Though You Slay Me” is that they reminds us of an aspect of our Father that is too often pushed aside and ignored, namely that God disciplines those whom He loves. He actually does make us worthy, and in turn we display His glory and worth in that our hearts are wholly set on Him.

One way we display and magnify His glory and worth is when He takes from us, for whatever the reason, and we respond by blessing and loving and leaning harder into Him.

He tries us in the furnace of affliction, sometimes when we have fallen into sin, or into idolatry. Such was the case with His people when Isaiah recorded those words. But sometimes it is not the result of some gross sin or idolatry as we see with Job. God lovingly cleans out the cluttered closets of our hearts and makes room for us to see Him as greater and more supremely satisfying than absolutely anything else we could possibly desire or even need. “For my name’s sake… For my own sake” He says, “I do it.”

Why do bad things happen? Why is life under the sun, difficult and filled with trouble after trouble. On this earth, every birth is followed by death and every joy ends with tragedy. Why? Because God has done it. But why? Because the end of the matter is to fear God, which is to love God, which is to glorify God. Which means that our trouble on this planet, and our cycles of joy and tragedy, because of God’s love for us that is founded on His ferocious love for Himself, those things, and all things, are working in us and for us, His children, to display that glory—to display His glory.

God is using you. His artwork. His trophy, created in Christ Jesus. You are His masterpiece, on display in this broken down and groaning gallery, for broken down and groaning people to see. To witness His worth by seeing His work. You are His light in this present darkness. You are His witness. You are His workmanship.

That is what is means to be worthy. That is why a God who tears, who breaks, who ruins, who disciplines those whom He loves, is a comfort and not a terror. He is a skilled craftsmen, a potter, a painter, a director, an author. He is working. His craft is to glorify His name and He has chosen you to be His canvas. His child. And not because loving you, in and of yourself, is the end of the matter. It isn’t. That would be as foolish as saying the end goal of a painter is to love a blank canvas. No. A painter loves a blank canvas in the first because of what he intends to do with it. In the end, he loves the masterpiece. God loves glory and goodness and justice and truth and mercy, and for that reason—for His own sake, He has loved you and will not leave you empty. He has made you full. He is making you full. So come and be filled. Welcome to Jesus Christ.