Monday, July 13, 2009

“Fear and Rejoicing – Undignified Worship”

Last time, we saw how Uzzah’s tragic irreverence kept David and the Israelites from experiencing God’s blessings in worship. It is possible for you to ruin the worship experience of others around you, if you let your irreverence and bad attitude spill out into the church service. Instead of being brought into Jerusalem, the ark had to be kept under lock and key until a later date.

Months after Uzzah’s tragedy, David got over his fear, and again led a joyous procession to bring the ark into Jerusalem. It was a time of extravagant worship. David recognized that our whole bodies can be employed in worshipping God. He stripped off his kingly garments and danced before the ark wearing only a linen ephod. Later, his wife rebuked him for it, saying, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would (2 Sam 6:20)!”

David’s response was, “I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor (vv. 21b-22)." When you enter worship, are you more concerned with what other people might think of you, if you worship God the way you feel led? Or, like David, do you choose to give your whole self to God in worship, holding nothing back so you can praise your Lord?

I have a confession to make. I’m a closet hand-raiser. Yes, when the spirit moves me, I like to raise my hands in worship. The problem is, that’s not typical for my church. For years, I have allowed my fear of their judgment to keep me from raising my hands in worship. That’s pretty bad, since I’m supposed to be their leader! The funny thing is, I’ve talked with others who have felt the same way, yearning to raise their hands in worship, but feeling restricted. I’ve decided to give up phony concerns like this, and just worship God the way I feel led. By doing this, I’m creating more of an atmosphere of acceptance, and removing the restraining spirit that once held many in our congregation bound.

The March 10, 1993 edition of Today in the Word says, “Deeply immersed in meditation during a church service, Italian poet Dante Alighieri failed to kneel at the appropriate moment. His enemies hurried to the bishop and demanded that Dante be punished for his sacrilege. Dante defended himself by saying, ‘If those who accuse me had had their eyes and minds on God, as I had, they too would have failed to notice events around them, and they most certainly would not have noticed what I was doing.’”

True worship is when fear (reverence) and rejoicing meet. Just as the wings of the angels touch on top of the ark, so the twin wings of fear and rejoicing have to meet for true worship to take place. It’s possible to have so much reverence for God that you never really worship. It’s also possible to come with so much rejoicing that you forget the awe of the Incomparable One. May you enter worship with both fear and rejoicing this Sunday.

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