This week’s post is titled Genuine Worship. If I could summarize the point of this post into a single sentence, here it is: Worship that responds to God and his redeeming works towards humanity will naturally be expressive, outwardly conveying an inward heart of worship.
Generally, what we feel emotionally on the inside has some physical expression on the outside. But somehow, when it comes to corporately worshipping God, this natural tendency to react is suppressed. Here’s a quote from a worship pastor named Bob Kauflin who explains this well:
Our bodies naturally reflect what affects us. I cringe when a glass of milk is about to be knocked over; I open my arms wide as my daughter runs to greet me; I jump up from the couch with my hands raised when my team scores the winning goal; I gratefully applaud unselfish acts of service; I cry when a friend’s child dies. Is the church the only place where our bodies can’t express what our minds are comprehending and our hearts are feeling?
Do you see the unusual inconsistency here?
When we think about the Creator God and all that he has made in creation…
Or when we consider the sheer greatness and glory of the Father in all of his holiness…
Or when we reflect on the work of our Savior King Jesus and what he done for us while we were dead in sin, being thrown on a cross to die so that we might live…
Can it be possible that these thoughts weigh so grandly on our hearts yet have little effect in our worship externally?
Allowing our bodies to be apart of worship not only seems natural and biblical, but it also conveys our disposition towards God. What do I mean by that? Let’s take the act of lifting hands in worship as an example. What is being communicated as a person lifts their hands during worship? Many things can be communicated: dependence, gratefulness, surrender, expectation, reverence, celebration, adoration. Lifting your hands in worship can also profoundly display the distinction between the Creator (God) and creature (us) – it conveys the submission of sons and daughters to their loving Father.
Many of the songs we sing on Sundays also seem to give us cues that expect some physical response. Gloria is a song we sing taken directly from Psalm 34. Both the Psalm and the song say that the faces of those who look upon God are radiant! Does this mean you now smile every time you sing this line? Perhaps. Or perhaps not. The point is more, as we sing these songs and absorb the biblical truth in these lyrics, does it affect us? Are we engaged with what we’re singing beyond a mere cognitive engagement? Or worse, is it mindless? When we sing ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good!’, are we just mouthing words that haven’t made its way down into our souls? If these truths have actually traveled from our minds down to our hearts, we would imagine that the natural consequence will have some sort of physical effect.
Does this all mean we have to now force it if it doesn’t come natural? No, not necessarily. But rather, what would it look like for us to allow the truths that we know in our head and hearts to be freed to biblically respond in worship with our bodies to the glory of God?
God doesn’t love you more or less based on your expressive worship and you can’t earn more points with God just because you’re now raising your hands – in fact, there are no points at all! We are fully received by God by the grace of God in His Son Jesus Christ. Our merits are only because of Him. Many people are exuberant in corporate worship yet live in unrepentant sin. And on the contrary, many are very conservative in worship, yet love Jesus deeply and know the Scriptures in their mind and life. Our devotion to God is not proved by our external acts, but by our hearts (1 Sam 16:7). But our hope in pursuing God with our minds, hearts, and bodies is a hope that seeks to glorify God, to please God, and to fully live out what it means to be truly human as God has created us.
On our next post, we’ll talk through Barriers to Expressive Worship.