Tuesday, September 4, 2012

physical expression in worship

In the last few months I've noticed how often Scripture talks about people having a physical expression in their worship. Worship didn't just consists of standing in one spot singing. Many times where was a response that came in a physical manner, whether it be dancing, clapping, raising hands, shouting, or falling facedown on the ground. They didn't seem to be concerned about others around them when they responded in those ways. Their hearts were responding to God and nothing else mattered to them.

Probably on the more well-known passages that records one of these times is 2 Samuel 6. The ark is being returned to Jerusalem where it belongs and David is worshipping God. 2 Samuel 6:14-15 says, "Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets." (NIV). David was worshipping God with everything he had in him. Later, when he was asked about it by his wife Michal and accused of doing something inappropriate in his dancing in worship. David responded with these words, "It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord's people Israel. I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." (1 Samuel 6:21-22, NIV). David's dancing was a response to God and the people who may have seen it were not his concern.

Leviticus 9:22-24 records another response to seeing God' glory of the people of Israel. It was the beginning of the ministry of those God had called as priests. The people saw God's glory in a great way. The en of Leviticus 9:24 records the Israelite's response to what they saw, "And when the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown." (NIV). Seeing God's glory caused two responses in the people of Israel - they shouted for joy and then they found themselves on their faces in worship before God.

As I reflect on these passages, along with countless other passages of Scripture that speak to the same thing, I've found myself thinking about my own life in worship of God. Am I really able to allow myself to respond in worship to God in the way that other's around me may not be? What do I think when I see others respond in such a manner?

I realize that in the Christian church today there is a wide range of view points on what may or may not be appropriate ways to respond in worship. I'm not going to get into that. What I think we can all agree on is that Scripture records a physical aspect to worship of God and there may be times we also feel the need to physically respond in worship to God. It's a part of worship, not the whole of it - but definitely important.

Obviously when we are in the midst of corporate worship, we need to be respectful of those around us who are also there to worship. And that may mean our physical expression of worship is more contained than it may be at other times. A physical response in worship should not be an excuse to cause a scene and shift people's attention to you rather than allowing them to keep their focus on God.

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