Our Role in Worship
Occasionally, our church is visited by some extravagant worshippers (for lack of a better term). We are in the city limits of Houston, and all types of people come.
One morning I noticed one of these visitors acting a little different than the others in the room. It is a norm in our church to see hands lifted, knees bent, and/or eyes closed while we sing to the Lord. This person was doing much more than that.
She began to first sway very dramatically. Then as we hit the song climax, she drifted to the aisle and then the front of the church below the stage and began some sort of a dance. It was not one I recognized, but seemed a bit like an African tribal jig.
The church members noticed her. We all noticed her. Some children began laughing. Adults began to look around for a pastor but they were all in prayer for the sermon. It was embarrassing. I was hoping that there were no believers shook from their faith nor unbelievers confused of our faith. The worship director changed the music and the lady went back to her seat.
However common or uncommon, it was distracting. She did not appear to be showing how well her steps were or that God loves her more than others. She did not holler and through herself around. She simply did her spontaneous dance with her hands waving towards the heaven.
I suspect that her heart was sincere and that she was exploding with emotions. I know that I was as well as I sat behind the sound booth managing the mixing console. She probably didn’t mean to draw attention to herself, but it was too evident to go unnoticed.
Are we ushering in the presence of God when we do these things?
I am certainly one to admit that the joy of the Lord and the excitement that comes over me when I recognize the goodness and graciousness of God is hard to contain in words. But should we not regulate our responses in worship? I think so.
I’m reminded of Paul instructions on how we should prepare and participate in worship. He writes this to Timothy:
I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. (1 Timothy 2:8-10)
Paul was teaching an important principle here that tends to be overlooked among believers. He instructs that worship should be a place of holiness where men set aside grudges and women set aside sexual agendas. He is writing that corporate worship is reserved for the honoring and focusing of God and God alone. In fact, his comments get more detailed when he describes how women should dress.
He writes, “women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.” Now, without going into too much historical context, Paul is simply saying that women should not come dressed to attract the thoughts of others but to divert the thoughts of others unto the Lord.
He continues with that they should rather dress in “which is proper for women professing godliness with good works.” What does that mean? It simply means that women should dress in a way that does not hinder another person from worshipping God. The idea is that when we come to worship, we focus on the Lord only. And that clothes and hair and jewelry distract people from their primary focus.
And this is not just for the women; men should keep this principle as well. To neglect this principle is to open the doors wide open for self worship. And that is exactly what many are doing. Women are coming to be noticed. Men are noticing instead of leading. So other women take leadership roles and before you know it, women are teaching men. Men are acting like women. And children are lost and confused on who is the head of the family and where the parents fall into the scheme of things.
So what does this mean in our context of worship? The attitude of the heart when preparing and participating in worship is to do that which drives others to honor and focus on the Lord. If yelling “Amen!” distracts others from their focus on God, then do not do it. If wearing certain colors and outfits may distract others, then do not wear them. If dancing in the aisles could draw attention to yourself, then stand still. After all, if you truly want to worship the Lord, then you will love your beloved more than yourself and assist them in drawing their attention to the Most High God.
So then, how can I worship God at the best of my ability? Doing everything possible to differ attention from me to the Lord who deserves all of our attention.
May this be our prayer:
Lord, forgive us for forgetting our beloved family. Forgive us of acting without first considering how You command to be worshipped. Forgive us, for in seeking to be honored and worshipping you the way we desire, we have stolen your glory and embraced it as our own. Forgive us for robbing your worship. We have forgotten our purpose as we often do. We have lived in this world so much that we live like it and are not even aware of our sin. Transform our thinking and remind us to seek first the edification of the church rather than ourselves. Remind us to be loving as you have commanded. Remind us that our assurance of our salvation is indeed vindicated by our selfless love towards those who are Your own children. For our Lord said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” For what else could we say, but “Please forgive us of our sin.”