Worship. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s a wonderful thing. It is literally (and I am using that word correctly, ya haters) the best. It also makes people feel awkward and uncomfortable and tense. It’s caused rifts and confusion and apprehension. That is not the best. Literally.
In my most free state, when I get to that place where I am completely unaware of the people around me and am instead fully engaged with the Father…well, things can get a little crazy. There’s a lot of arm waving, twirling, tip-toe standing, and audible laughing. I can confidently say that in that place, in those moments, is when I am my most joyful. It’s like a taste of heaven and I’m in awe that I even get a bite. If I’m wearing comfy clothes on top of it and I decided to leave my heels at home – it’ll take me hours to come down from that mountain! Now put me beside some like-minded friends in the same situation and, oh boy. It’s good, guys. It is dang good.
Not every worship experience gets me to that place, though. While the Father is always present and the Holy Spirit is always working, my itty bitty dumb ole human mind tends to wander. I get distracted by insecurities, plans, bad hair days. I start thinking about my future, my past, my present drama, and throughout it all, am acutely aware of the possible judgments of every individual in my vicinity which in turn makes me acutely aware of my hands. What am I supposed to do with my hands?!
Millennials are an interesting bunch. I can say this because I am one. We are constantly criticizing other people and ourselves, more often and more severely than generations before. Through various social media outlets, more media, reality shows, and trendy lifestyle blogs than ever before, we spend our days comparing ourselves to a particular version of thousands and thousands of individuals. We judge habitually and harshly.
And then on the other side of it, my culture has taught me to believe that everyone is a-okay! We’re all good! In fact, everything’s all good. Your truth is your truth, mine is mine. None of us are wrong. We’re just different. It’s all wonderful. Bubbles and rainbows. Don’t judge anyone ever.
We are a confusing bunch, we millennials. Sorry about that, every other generation.
This “every truth is truth” mentality is dangerous. It seems compromising and friendly but, in reality, it steals people from the freedom that absolute truth can bring. This mentality can be dangerous when it comes to policies and laws and sins and salvation, but even in our churches, even in our worship with like-minded believers, this state of mind creeps in and takes hold.
Since we are constantly in this back-and-forth game of judging all the time and refusing to judge at all, “Worship however you want” can quickly turn into, “Worship the way the person next to you is worshiping.” This way, in my experience and denomination, tends to be the most subdued way. We don’t want to make a scene, after all. We try to compromise without risk of being critiqued ourselves.
If we read Psalms, we see David worshiping with hands raised, with instruments of all kinds, with dance, with shouts, face down on the floor, on the streets, in his underwear, you name it. He sang with joy at some times and at other times he despaired. Say what you will about David, but the man worshiped. He worshiped hard. He worshiped well. He did not compromise. He did not care what the person next to Him was thinking, unless they wanted to jump in with fierce and wild worship as well.
I have yet to read any accounts of David worshiping with his hands at his sides, stone faced.
Psalm 100 says, “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.”
Just reading that evokes images of dance and shouts: singing with joy, going in with praise! When you imagine going in somewhere with praise, what does that look like to you? Running? Leaping? Fist pumping? Sweet 360 turns, parkour style?
Love the Lord authentically. Worship Him in the way that best connects you to Him. If that means sitting and biting your nails, sit and bite your nails. If that means twirling and leaping, twirl and leap. What worries me, is that we may think we are best connected to Him by standing still with our hands at our sides, when we’ve yet to even try entering the dance.
Don’t jump in all at once. Next time you’re alone in the car, turn on a worship song. Instead of humming along or trying to sound like an angel, shout it. Fist pump a little. Bounce in your seat. See how it feels. You might just like it and the Holy Spirit might just dance along with you.