Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Lift My Hands. . .

Last Spring, I took my son John to an outdoor concert in Tempe Arizona. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and we really enjoyed the experience, even though I didn’t really enjoy the band personally. The band we heard is called Skillet and while they’re a Christian band, their style is a bit too much like the acid rock from my teen years for me to appreciate. (I know I sound just like my parents did then, don’t I?)

As I sat at the concert watching John enjoy it I noticed a number of things: I noticed that those who did like it were singing along, had their hands raised, sometimes were breaking out in yelling and cheering, and more, not to mention that at the end of each song, they broke out in loud verbal, and physical applause that included such gestures as jumping up and down, clapping with hands raised above their heads, as well as yelling until they were hoarse.

A few months later while I was in Mexico I visited a church where the same kind of behavior was going on. The difference between the two was that these expressions of praise, adoration, and appreciation were directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ instead of a popular band.

Honestly, my conservative side didn’t like it at first. I mean, weren’t they getting a bit carried away? I certainly was raised differently and the worship was a bit. . . more than I was accustomed to. As I thought about it though, I realized that I was holding onto a wrong attitude. Think about it for a moment: if we are so very willing to show that much adoration for a popular singer, or sports star, or even politician doesn’t the Lord, Jesus Christ deserve just as much adoration? Isn’t He, above everyone, worthy of that kind of enthusiasm?

Interestingly, in the Bible we see examples of that kind of adoration. King David was actually chastised by his wife for getting too carried away: so much so that he stripped off his clothing and danced before the Lord with all his heart. (2 Samuel 6)  It’s interesting to note that King David is the one man in the Bible that God actually says was a man “after His heart.” Could this act be one of those reasons?

And, we see in Nehemiah eight that all the people lifted their hands in adoration, while verbally praising God. If you read that passage, you’ll see that the people first lifted their hands in worship, and then fell down on their faces before the Lord. Ezra, who was their leader, then tells them NOT to mourn, cry, weep, but instead to be joyful and feast and rejoice. They are to do this because this demonstrates that the day is holy.

Too both Psalm 63 and 134 actually command people to praise God, and while praising Him to lift up their hands. Psalm 63 tells us we do this because “His loving kindness is better than life.”  It further describes the Psalmist desire for God as something that is akin to thirst in a dry and dusty land.

Which leads me back to my realization: if God really is who we believe He is, isn’t He worthy of at least as much, and as verbal, and as physical praise as a rock singer? And, relating to how I was raised, if I’m refusing to give that to Him, am I really honoring Him? 

So, next Sunday if you come to my church, maybe, just maybe, you'll see me. I'll be the one whose worshiping the One who is worthy of all my praise with all of my heart. (Not so sure about the dancing thing, but you'll probably see my hands raised in adoration, and you might see me sway a bit.) Then again, maybe you won't see me since you'll be so taken up praising God you won't notice me. 

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