Our boys, Hudson (2) and Nolan (1), have already experienced a plethora of emotions in their young age. Trust me. There have been times where they want nothing but to be held by mom. So much so for Nolan that he will simply whimper at Lauren's feet with both of his little hands extended toward her. As a family, we love Royals baseball. This past season we had the game on almost every night that we were home together. If the boys in blue made a big defensive play, or one of them hits a home run, we would unashamedly clap and shout at the TV (don’t judge us). Lately, Nolan will drop whatever he’s doing to clap and wiggle whenever a song comes on the TV or radio.
The truth is, outward expressions are natural responses in our life experiences. We don’t shout for our favorite team because that’s what we’re supposed to do -we do it because we care (sometimes, a little too much) about what just happened out on the field. We don’t bitterly weep and mourn for the death of a spouse or friend because it’s some sort of “unwritten rule.” We weep because our emotions naturally lead us to when we have lost someone that we dearly love.
It would be backwards not to express the joys and sorrows that well up inside of us.
Is it not strange then to sing about how holy God is and how much we adore him with our hands in our pockets as we yawn the words out? It is not at all fitting to praise the God who raised our spiritually dead, hell-bound lives back to life with a straight face and our arms folded.
Author and worship leader Stephen Miller writes on this subject. "King David, the innovator of music in corporate worship, wrote hundreds of songs for the purpose of engaging the mind, heart and body in worship. He understood that posture is an outward expression of an inward reality. Our body naturally acts the way our hearts feel. So we see encouragements throughout scripture to bow humbly, raise hands joyfully, shout and sing loudly, clap hands and even dance before the Lord. This must have felt very awkward to the people of the day, who had never seen anything like this before."
Worship is a response. God’s people have and will forever respond to God’s goodness. It really is that simple. God is good in unique ways, so we respond uniquely -clapping, singing, shouting, dancing, kneeling, and even weeping as we ponder the mercies of our Savior King. It must be said that the simplicity of worship can easily get complicated. Our silly preferences over styles of music can cause quarrels and create barriers, but we must find a way to worship because God created us to enjoy (worship) Him. The foundation of our worship will never be our whimsical preferences. In fact, if our nit picky desires for a certain style of music creates a barrier to our worship of God Most High, then we aren’t worshipping Him, we are worshipping ourselves. The only way we will truly worship comes through receiving the good news of the gospel -Christ crucified in our place, and raised from the dead to give us new life (see John 14:6, and 1 Cor. 15:3-4). The Person and work of Jesus is what we are responding to. In Christ we have enough grace to be saved from the wrath to come, and enough grace to be sustained in the day to day grind of worshipping God in all circumstances. Jesus is the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2). So don’t get caught up thinking about what you look like when you’re singing on Sunday mornings. Get caught up thinking about the One who saved you from your sin, and worship Him with everything.
“Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8).