Worship: Why Exuberant?
“Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth” Psalm 47:1-2
The scene is set – a congregation is gathered for worship, the musicians are in their places, there is a buzz in the air – great anticipation. Suddenly the music begins and the people rise to their feet and begin raising their hands, jumping for joy and singing with all their might! And the question arises – why are they doing that? Isn’t worship supposed to be a solemn event? This isn’t a rock concert – this is the house of the Lord! Why are these people so exuberant?
For many in the church, these questions come from a place of tradition, a way in which we were raised to expect church and worship. For others, there is a formality that is needed and required for worship to be meaningful. It’s the touchy subject of traditional versus contemporary worship . But I think it’s more than that. This concept of exuberance in worship transcends style and format. It points to the condition of the worshiper and has nothing to do with electric guitars versus pipe organ.
Let’s let Psalm 100 be our guide. This is a great framework for how worship should be approached and conducted. Verses 1 and 2 tell us…
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing” Psalm 100:1-2
Notice it doesn’t say “come before HIs presence with solemnity”. God wants us to boldly approach the throne of grace in the knowledge and confidence of His grace. If we know just what Christ has done for us – and we are well acquainted with our sinfulness – how can we not be “joyful” as we come before Him. He tells us to SHOUT! BE GLAD! SING! Those are exuberant declarations. But verse 3 tells us why…
“Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3
Let’s put this into perspective, shall we? God made us, we belong to Him. That is why we should be excited to worship Him! The God of the universe, the King of the Ages, the ultimate rock star – Jesus – we belong to Him! The Great One has invited us to come and spend time with Him. Do we really believe that? Sundays (and really every day) we get to gather together and meet with God – the one to which we belong. Isn’t that worth getting excited and joyful about?
And then the Psalm finishes with its “therefore” conclusion…
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5
Because we are His – we should enter His gates with full throated exuberance. We should exude “thankfulness”. Regardless of style. If you’re singing “The Church’s One Foundation” with pipe organ and choir – sing it with every ounce of energy you have. Why? Because the “one foundation” is Jesus Christ our Lord! And He came to save YOU! Isn’t that worth some exuberance? If you’re singing “Mighty To Save” with drums and electric guitars – sing it with all of your energy and exuberance. Why? Because the one who came to save us is Jesus Christ. He suffered death on the cross for YOU! Isn’t that worth standing and shouting about?
We often get complacent in our worship. Like everything else, it becomes a routine. We get up on Sunday mornings and go through our “get ready for church” ritual, and we miss the glorious anticipation that coming to church can be. This next Sunday, take this “anticipation challenge”. All through the week as you spend time with God, reading His word and praying – ask God to well up within you the anticipation of what He’s going to reveal to you in worship and ask Him to grow within you “worship exuberance” for Sunday morning. Then come with the anticipation and expectation that you are going to “enter His gates with thanksgiving”, and come” into His courts with praise”. Who knows, you might even work up a heavenly sweat for the Lord!!
“Hallelujah! Yes, praise the Lord! Praise him in his Temple and in the heavens he made with mighty power. Praise him for his mighty works. Praise his unequaled greatness. Praise him with the trumpet and with lute and harp. Praise him with the drums and dancing. Praise him with stringed instruments and horns. Praise him with the cymbals, yes, loud clanging cymbals. Let everything alive give praises to the Lord! You praise him! Hallelujah!” Psalm 150 (TLB)