Emotions: Part of Being Created in God’s Image
In Scripture, God is said to enjoy, love, laugh, take delight, and rejoice, as well as be angry, happy, jealous, and glad. Rather than viewing these actions and descriptors as mere anthropomorphisms, we should consider that our emotions are derived from God’s. While we should always avoid creating God in our image, the fact remains we are created in his. Therefore, our emotions are a reflection of and sometimes (because of our sin) a distortion of God’s emotions. To be like God means to have and express emotions. Hence, we should expect that in Heaven emotions will exist for God’s glory and our good.
In this four-minute video, I answer the question, “Is God sentimental?”
In Heaven we’ll exercise not only intellect but also emotions (Revelation 6:10; 7:10). Even angels respond emotionally (Revelation 7:11-12; 18:1-24). Emotions are part of our God-created humanity, not sinful baggage to be destroyed. We should anticipate pure and accurately informed emotions guided by reality. Our present emotions are skewed by sin, but they’ll be delivered from it.
Will we cry in Heaven? The Bible says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Revelation 21:4, NASB, emphasis added). These are the tears of suffering over sin and death, the tears of oppressed people, the cries of the poor, the widow, the orphaned, the unborn, and the persecuted. God will wipe away the tears of racial injustice. Such crying shall be no more.
The verse primarily addresses not tears per se but the tears coming from injustice and sorrow. Hence, we might shed tears of joy in Heaven. Can you imagine joy flooding your eyes as you meet Christ, for example, and as you’re reunited with loved ones? I can.
We know that people in Heaven have lots of feelings—all good ones. We’re told of banquets, feasts, and singing. People will laugh there (Luke 6:21). Feasting, singing, and rejoicing involve feelings. Feelings aren’t part of the Curse; they’re part of how God made human beings from the beginning. Our present emotions are bent by sin, but they will forever be straightened again when God removes the Curse.
Many people have a hard time with their feelings. In Heaven we’ll be free to feel intensely, never afraid of our feelings.
One writer says of our life in Heaven, “We will live on a perpetual and exhilarating high akin to the feeling we have now when we shout ‘Yes!’ at a great victory.” I’m not so sure. Living constantly at a fever pitch of exhilaration would eclipse special moments of joy. Certainly in Heaven we won’t experience sadness, but that doesn’t require each moment’s joy to be exactly equal to the rest. Will our emotions be more intense sometimes than others? I believe they will. We experience an ebb and flow to our lives. That rhythm is part of being human and finite—and we’ll always be both.