The joy of the Lord is our strength, but a central part of what we are seeking to recover is a true Christian joy that is weighty and solid as opposed to the light and frothy joy of emotions and feelings. Emotions and feelings come and go, ebb and flow. You can sing a song, play a certain set of chords, turn the lights down, and say a certain set of words and with a high degree of accuracy manipulate peoples’ emotions and feelings. And a lot of modern Christian worship is aimed to do that. The best forms of this still believe that the gospel must be at the center of it, but they still frequently believe that they must present the gospel in a way that is calculated to hit people in the “feels.”
We do not deny that God has given feelings and emotions, but we do deny that this often results in true regeneration, true Christian joy, or lasting obedience. Jesus said that the joy He gives can never be taken away. If your Christian joy comes and goes, it isn’t Christian joy. Christian joy is more like the foundation of your house than the weather outside. Christian joy is more like concrete and rock, not the breezes or temperatures or seasons. Christian joy is a mountain that cannot be moved. And this is because Christian joy is Christ in You. Christian joy is Christ in you the hope of glory. Christian joy is Christ in you for the forgiveness of all your sins, the certainty of eternal life, God’s sure blessing, and victory over sin, death, and the devil.
And this is why we worship the way we do. We are not opposed to the warmth of emotion and feeling, but we are highly suspicious of our natural feelings and emotions. We know that they can come and go, and we’ve seen the damage that kind of worship can do. We are living in a land that has worshipped feelings and emotions, and now our land cannot distinguish feelings from truth. So we are here to cultivate the kind of joy that goes down deep, the kind of joy that Jesus gives that never fades. The kind of joy that really is strong to obey not matter what.