Thursday, April 20, 2023
Many people use a variety of excuses to justify a subdued attitude when the church gathers to worship Jesus. Some use their personality as an excuse. Some claim their upbringing as validation. Some even try to use Scripture to justify maintaining a quiet and respectful demeaner in worship. However, with no apologies for any offense you may take, all such excuses and justifications are invalid when the command of Scripture negates them all.
Psalm 70:4 “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you!”
Now before you start justifying your excuses based on your definitions of rejoicing and gladness that come from within the parameters of your personality and experiences, let’s see what the words mean in their original usage.
Rejoice – A Hebrew verb meaning to rejoice; to exalt; to be glad. It is a verb that indicates great rejoicing and jubilant celebration.
Glad – A verb meaning to rejoice; to be joyful, to be glad; to gloat. It describes a state and agitation of rejoicing, of being happy.
For the 18 days I was in the Philippines, I observed and participated in agitated rejoicing and jubilant celebration. I wish we Americans would learn to let loose a little. I’m not talking about wild confusion, but I am ready for every follower of Christ to learn to really rejoice in the Lord. And don’t try to say that in your heart you are rejoicing when there is no physical proof that you are. The definition of the Hebrew word goes on and states that rejoicing “makes others rejoice and to be glad.” Our quiet, respectful, non-emotional definition of worship is not the Biblical norm. There is a place for quiet worship, just as there is a command for agitated rejoicing. And we are to do it in such a way that others around us are stimulated to rejoice.
I know I have stepped on some toes today. I wish I was doing it while excitedly rejoicing before the Lord, like stepping on your toes when dancing. If you are sensing pain in your toes, maybe it’s because they are too stationary. Maybe if you moved them a little while you worshiped they wouldn’t get stepped on. But your toes are not the real issue…your heart is. I have never, and I really mean never, met a person without emotion. I have also never met a person who doesn’t express their emotion. I have seen the most gentle and quiet people become loud and expressive while they gloat over things that obviously have deep meaning to them. So why, why, why do those same people seem so emotionless and inactive when worshiping Jesus whom they claim to love more than anything? It’s a heart issue.
I am so thankful for my Filipino friends, who have taught me to look only at Jesus during worship, and from my heart rejoice with physical expressions of love, joy, and gratitude. I shouted. I cried. I raised my hands. I danced. I joined in jubilant celebration of King Jesus because I love him more than any traditions or definitions.
I pray that someday soon your personal preferences and the practices of your particular church that restrict jubilant celebration and agitated rejoicing will be forever transformed into heavenly praise and worship. May it start with you this Sunday.