Every Sunday people gather together to worship God. This comes with a lot of questions; What am I suppose to feel? Do I have to do what everybody else is doing to fit in? What’s up with people lifting their hands?
I wasn’t raised as a Christian, so when I hit the Christian seen it was awkward to say the least. It was crazy seeing people express themselves in worship towards God; people looked up with joy, knelt down in prayer, raised their hands, dance, clap... I had no idea what I was suppose to do, so I simply fit in by doing a little bit of each. While I was finding my worship niche, I did notice that as my affections became overwhelmed by God, it was easier to worship in a way that seemed natural.
"The Scriptures talk about a grateful expression based on the greatness of who God is and what He has done."
The Scriptures talk about a grateful expression based on the greatness of who God is and what He has done. Time and time again we see that God’s people are to remember this and then express this in worship as a community. For us as Christians we express, at the very least, that our names are written in the book of life- in other words we are going to heaven. This should effect are emotions, which then transfer into worship. What else could matter in light of the fact that God redeemed the unredeemable, forgave the unforgivable and called us His own. Even beyond that, as though that’s not enough, God gives us unmerited favor in this life; answering prayers, looking out for our needs, giving us faith, wisdom, power and love through the Gospel to live beyond ourselves by granting us his indwelling presence through the person of the Holy Spirit. The real question is, how could we not express worship?
I remember bringing a guy to a worship gathering who wasn’t a Christian. As he stood next to me during the time we sang I thought, maybe I should tone down my expression of worship so I won’t freak the guy out. But as the songs began I felt the presence of God over me and I took my eyes off of my surroundings and put them on to God. I lifted my hands, looked up with joy, and sang my heart out. After church the guy said, “I really liked how you worshiped, it was real...”
It’s pretty clear in the Scriptures that God isn’t looking for an outward expression that is disconnected from inward affections. Thus, what He is looking for is a heart of gratitude and from that heart we express it in worship. It’s genuine. We don’t have to concern ourselves with insecurities of what people might think, we concern ourselves with lifting the name of Jesus high by transferring what takes place inwardly and expressing it outwardly! The other side of that coin is that our expression of worship is in the context of community. Our worship shouldn’t be a distraction to the point that others are focused on us instead of God. It can sometimes be a hard balance to live out- freedom of expression without distraction- but I’d say most won’t have worry about swinging to far left during worship, so lean towards freedom. Besides your elders will let you know if you go to far...
I remember seeing one of the biggest Hawaiian dudes around stand in the back of church with his arms stretched out high in worship. This was a dudes dude, and by mere appearance alone no one would ever tell this guy he wasn’t acting like a man. That memory still inspires me to remember to step out in the freedom God has given me to worship well.
In 1 Timothy 2:8 it says I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. Right before that, it says we should pray for our leaders and right after, it says that women should adorn themselves modestly. No one would argue biblically that these are anything less than commands but yet when it comes to lifting our hands in prayerful worship it becomes a suggestion. If the song is good enough, then maybe...
All commands of Scripture are based on the Gospel; we do because of what’s been done by Jesus on the cross. Obeying is an expression of worship. Therefore, let’s express our gratitude in worship by lifting our hands; arms straight up, palms out in expression of surrender or arms mid-way up, palms in expressing how you are receiving from God. Clap, dance, sing loud, move around, drop to your knees, do something a bit out of your comfort zone that connects your inward gratitude to your outward worship, keep it genuine, don’t draw attention to yourself, but glorify the God who saved you...
See you Sunday.