Sign of Surrender
Last Saturday at approximately 7:32 PM my house erupted in an explosion of cheers. A dozen Georgia Bulldog fans filling my living room had just witnessed our beloved running back, Todd Gurley, race from end zone to end zone, returning a kick off 107 yards against Auburn to knot the scoreboard. Gurley had spent the past month riding the pine after being busted for collecting cash in exchange for his John Hancock. The best player on our squad had been out of action, and the Dawgs and their fans had suffered in the wake. Now, his first time touching a ball in live action in more than a month had resulted in a blazing touchdown run that sent my home into a beautiful chaos of uplifted hands, high fives, and adult men screaming like pre-schoolers at recess. Our excitement was short lived though. A holding penalty nullified the run, wiped the 6 from the scoreboard, and slammed the dozen in my living room back to earth. I was reminded through the tug of a jersey just how short lived the excitement and the joys of this life are, and yet how we celebrate them so vigorously.
Juxtaposed to this, as I strap on my six string each Sunday morning and sing about the Sovereign of the universe who has invaded and renewed our lives, I am sadly reminded of just how feebly we celebrate this stunning reality. There is no instruction needed to get football fans on their feet when their team forces a turnover. No one has to command our hands to thrust to the heavens when our favorite wide out hurtles over the finish line. But…when a pastor or worship leader begs the people of God to actually express themselves in worship – head lifted, hands raised – the accusations of manipulation, pastoral pressure, and inauthenticity fly. Just so we are clear, that is not what I am endeavoring to produce with this blog. I do not want people who are only half-heartedly (at best) worshipping Jesus to go nuts on Sunday mornings waving flags and blowing horns. I don’t want ingenuous praise, nor do I want you guys to lift a paw simply because I told you to (as if you would for that reason). What I want is to see people who love Jesus so much that they get excited about worshipping Him with others. Christ followers who out of the overflow of realizing the depth of God’s affection for them, express this realization through their voices, their faces, and their posture. Quite simply, my desire is to sing songs about the majesty, might, and mercy of God with all of you, my friends, and see hands and faces all across BLDG 28 lifted to the heavens! I want to see smiles turning lips upward as folks bask in the light of the grace of Jesus! I long to see visible expressions of your heart, because it warms and stirs my own.
Scripture is repleted with passages declaring how believers will worship. Though most of the texts are not prescriptive in nature, I do have to wonder why so many Christians today are so averse to what we see described throughout the Bible. Just to name a few for your consideration:
“So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.”
Psalm 63:4 ESV
“Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!”
Psalm 134:2 ESV
“Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!”
Psalm 141:2 ESV
“Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven…”
Lamentations 3:41 ESV
“Now as Solomon finished offering all this prayer and plea to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had knelt with hands outstretched toward heaven.”
1 Kings 8:54 ESV
“Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.”
Psalm 28:2 ESV
“And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God.”
Ezra 9:5 ESV
“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling…”
1 Timothy 2:8-10 ESV
These are just a few passages that state the importance of expressing visibly our worship of the Sovereign. Now, I realize that some of you, my friends, are just a bit more reserved, while others of you (like myself) are recovering Baptists, where a hand raised during the music was a willing admission of loose screws upstairs. I also realize that though we are commanded to sing to the Lord, we are not commanded on how we are to specifically express ourselves while doing so. I understand that some of you will never raise a hand, clap your hands, or do anything overly expressive in Sunday worship. internet safety statistics I get it. And if you think that’s all I’m hoping for then the point is being bypassed. What I long for is to see the folks of BLDG 28 so enamored with Jesus – like Solomon, David, and Ezra were – that what we feel for Him inside simply spills over in public, visual demonstration as an offering of worship to Him, a declaration of surrender of ourselves, and an expression of encouragement to others. I long to see in myself and my friends ardent worship that oozes from lips and lights up our lives. Let’s worship Jesus, expressing freely to Him and to others that He is worthy of all our devotion!
Soli Deo Gloria