Jul 30, 2011
What Does God Think About Shouting?
Right now, I'm reading a guy called David. He wrote a bunch of songs. Twenty times he tells us we should "shout for joy" ( 20:5; 27:6; 32:11; 33:1; 33:3; 35:27; 42:4; 47:1; 47:5; 65:8; 65:13; 66:1; 71:23; 81:1; 89:15; 126:2; 126:5; 126:6; 132:9; 132:16). Check them out some time. Two of them are a commands given to nature (65:8; 65:13; ), one is directed to "all the earth" (66:1). Can we simply dismiss these imperatives as something Jewish believers in a different part of the world at a different time in history used to do? You know, like tearing clothes and putting on sackcloth and ashes? I think not. There is something HUMAN about shouting for joy which transcends ethnicity and time. Watch and listen to sports fans when their hero hits the game winning three-pointer one millisecond before the buzzer goes off. It's VERY American to shout for joy,except in the ONE arena that's most appropriate-WORSHIP.
I'm not sure how or where this is to be done, whether privately only or in some appropriate way during corporate worship. But I am sure of this. Generally speaking, most of us are a part of a shoutless Christianity. Where is the exuberance for total, eternal forgiveness? "Our sins, not in part, but the whole are nailed to the cross and we bear them NO MORE!" It's ironic isn't it? We don't want to sin, so we go ahead and sin by not obeying Scripture. Culture and tradition have given us a false sensitivity which in effect has desensitized our consciences into NOT doing the very thing God's Word tells us to do. When is the last time any of us shouted in worship, EVEN PRIVATELY? When is the last time any of us at least shouted in our souls?
Candidly, I believe many of us who are Reformed and Evangelical are paralyzed by fear. We are afraid of who we might look like. But if we allow the abuse of everything that is biblical to keep us from doing what IS biblical, there's not much left that we can do. Such fear prepares us to become the willing subjects of spiritual highjacking. What would be wrong with a worship service characterized by brothers or sisters, here or there, now and then spontaneously shouting out things like "Praise the Lord!", or "Thank you Jesus!"?Why would that be inappropriate when saying "Amen!" is acceptable. I, for one, am a pastor who welcomes spontaneity and congregational feedback (primarily directed to God) during His worship. I want people (especially unbelievers) to go away from our worship services saying things like "Wow! Those people are excited about God. They really get into their worship don't they?" In that sense, I want a noisy service.
Here are some questions we need to answer. Does our worship tend to be too emotional or not emotional enough? Are we too spontaneous or not spontaneous enough? Are we too free in our expressions of love and joy or too restricted? What is our default mode? I'm in my thirty-ninth year of pastoring now and am fairly confident as to how those questions should be answered. But I will speak in total confidence with regard to myself. This poor redeemed soul is far too unaffectionate, unemotional, unexcited, unexpressive, reserved, and quiet in my worship-privately and corporately.
We sometimes sing with McCheyne "When I stand before the throne dressed in beauty not my own, when I see thee as thou art, love thee with unsinning heart, then Lord shall I fully know, not til then, how much I owe." How wonderfully true! Allow me to tweak the last line only slightly. "... then Lord shall I fully SHOW, not til then how much I owe". Knowing and showing. We need to show here and now a love and joy that corresponds with what we know.
Oh Lord, enlarge our understanding of who you are and all that you have so graciously done for us. And while you're at it, please enlarge our hearts as well and fill them with so much affection and joy that they must either explode or shout! In the worthy name of Jesus we pray. Amen.