It happened again. And on Easter Sunday, no less! We’ve talked about it all year but I’ve failed to mention it since March. Old habits die hard, I guess.
This past Sunday the choir delivered some of the most inspiring worship I’ve been a part of. You could see it on their faces, you saw it in their cardboard testimonies, you could hear it in their voices. I’ve been praying for years that our choir would become so inspiring that people would want to invite their neighbors by using the words, “You’ve got to come and hear this choir.”
Easter Sunday was that day. And people did invite their friends and neighbors. We had one of the largest Easter crowds in the history of the church. The choir worked diligently to present their best to the Lord and I could tell by many of the faces in the crowd that our congregation was inspired but …. then ….it happened.
As people left the service Sunday morning, at least 20 people told me they wanted to stand up and shout during one of the songs. They wanted to lift their hands in praise. They wanted give a big and vocal, “Praise the Lord!” They wanted to….but they didn’t. Why not?!?!
I don’t know if it was because it was Easter Sunday. I don’t know if we were too self-conscious. I don’t know if we were so pre-occupied with cute outfits and family pictures that we forgot the real reason we come to church on Sunday. But what I do know is that there were many who said, “I wanted to lift my hands,” but for some reason they didn’t. The Bible gives us full permission to praise God during worship. The Bible tells us that lifting our hands in praise and submission to God is a good thing. The Bible tells us we can rise to our feet when we feel the Spirit moving among His people. So why did so many people want to do it, but yet they sat on their hands?
The last thing I want is fake and/or manufactured expressions of worship. I saw a lot of that growing up. I also saw a lot of dead churches where people went out of their way to show ZERO emotion during worship services. All I’m asking is that everyone reading this article knows they have permission (and even exhortation) to stand to their feet and/or lift their hands and/or give a shout of praise when they feel led to do so by the Spirit of God. If you’re not led to do it, then don’t. Don’t feel obligated to give some type of outward expression if you don’t feel like expressing something. But if you do, our services have to be a place where people feel free to obey the following Scriptures:
- I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:4
- Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! Psalm 33:8
- Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or dissension. 1 Tim. 2:8
- Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. Psalm 28:2
- Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Hab. 3:2
- I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Psalm 143:6
- You who fear the Lord, praise Him; All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel. Psalm 22:23
You’ll be given a chance to live out these Scriptures every Sunday. Don’t be afraid to show on the outside what God is doing on the inside!