” ‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy’ ” John 16:20
Hockey is not my favorite sport, but I have been to a few games. I have seen players skating at full speed, miss the puck and slam themselves right into the wall. Some get hurt doing that, but in a few minutes they are right back at it. I am thinking, after I slammed my body into a wall like that, I would be more careful next time. Maybe don’t skate so fast. Maybe don’t try so hard, after all, you could get hurt. While a hockey player’s emotions and passion for the game will not allow him to do anything less than slam into the wall and also the ice at full speed, off the ice we have learned not to let our emotions and passions get the best of us. After getting hurt, we metaphorically skate a little more carefully around the wall and on the ice.
I have talked to people who have all kinds of pets at their home who have told me, they prefer pets over people, because their pets won’t hurt them. At least not emotionally, which is the worst kind of pain there is. People who have been both physically and emotionally abused say they handle the physical pain a lot better than the emotional pain. And to the brain, pain is pain regardless if it is physical or emotional. I have had Bible studies with teenage boys who play games with their electronic gadget games all the time. Some people find their obsession with these electronic games as being anti-social, but I have found over time, that the boys are not anti-social. They just have been hurt many times by people and so they stick to things that won’t hurt them like people will.
While our emotions open the way for grief and sorrow, we are also taught to be wary of emotions. People tell us not to sign any important documents while in an emotional state, just like they say not to drink and drive. It’s just a bad combination. We are told that love is not an emotion but a principle. That is part true and part false. Love is a principle, yes. In Ephesians 5, Paul tells husbands to love their wives, during a time when a lot of marriages were arranged by the parents. There may not have been any emotions or butterflies in their stomachs when they saw their wives. Their wives may not sweep them off their feet, but they were still to love them by following the principle of love which is others first. In order to love his wife, a man needed to put her needs above his own and the same is true today. Love is a principle which is others first.
In our church today we see a lot of emotionalism. Some are concerned that the principles of the church are being sacrificed for all this so called emotional worship. After all, the church has principles and we are not just all about emotions. We have seen drunkards respond to an altar call, sobbing while the music plays, and then the next day they are back on the bottle. We remind them that the church was built on principles and not emotions. Was it? Really? While Jesus was a man of principle He was also very emotional. He cried when He saw others weeping. He cried out over a city He was longing to save. He was emotionally distressed in His own personal Gethsemane. They don’t call it the passion week for nothing. Jesus was a man of principle and a man of emotions.
Consider this, a man and woman can be married and practice all the principles of love, such as putting the other person’s needs before your own. However, that principle alone is not going to produce anything. Now get a husband and wife to add a little emotion and passion to the principle and they will reproduce! Do you think, that maybe, the same God who planned it all out for a husband and wife to combine their passions and emotions with their principles in order to make new babies, also planned it out for His church to combine emotions and passion with our church principles in order to make new baby Christians who will also grow up in Christ to make more baby Christians?
In hockey there are skills and rules and principles that must be learned for a player to ever finally win the Stanley Cup. He can’t just skate his heart out on the ice, crashing into the wall all the time and expect to win. At the same time, he will never win the Stanley Cup without more than a few scrapes and bruises. He has to learn skills and principles, and protect his body, while still throwing his emotions and passions all over the ice to be slammed against the wall and crashed on the ice. So in the church and in life, we must follow principle, we must follow the rules, but we won’t get anywhere trying to protect and hide our emotions and passions all the time. You will never see me on a hockey rink, but I am determined to live my life the way Wayne Gretzky played hockey. I am headed full speed towards the puck or the wall or whatever is ahead. When I fall and get hurt I am getting back up and going full speed again, just like I have never been hurt. I am playing for something much greater than the Stanley Cup! I am so glad I have a Jesus who lives and loves me the way some people play hockey!