When I share a devotional thought, or a thought concerning worship, I like for it to be something God has impressed me with. Such is today's post.But, I found someone who has expressed thoughts very similar to mine, in a way that perhaps I could not. This post was written by Mike Harland who serves as the Director of Worship Ministries for Lifeway.
Mike shares: It's an interesting question: If you had one phrase to describe the corporate worship gathering of your church, what would it be? Lively? Stoic? Spirited? Mundane?
Over the years, I've experienced just about every type of atmosphere in worship. One church I served had a spirited atmosphere where the altar was full and the participation was amazing. People sang, shouted "Amen" and Hallelujah,"clapped and lifted their hands. It felt free because it seemed everyone wanted to be there and take part.
But another church I was part of was much more reserved. people would participate, but in a quieter, more reflective way. It seemed like most folks were engaged, but you really couldn't tell from the externals. I found myself wondering sometimes if the people felt really free to worship.
But, thinking like that can be a trap. The truth is...you really can't tell what's going on by what you see and hear. The church that felt free struggled to meet its budget because the people weren't as generous in their giving. While the church that was more reserved was one of the most giving and loving churches I've ever known. Who's to say which one was really hitting the mark in their worship?
I realized something about freedom in worship several years ago, and it is this:
Freedom in worship is not when you overcome your inhibitions - it's when God overcomes you.
And when God overcomes you, you will be free to lift your hands - or not. You will be free to sing and shout - or sit in silence. When God overcomes you, your life takes on more of the essence of Jesus' character - which may be in ways no one else can see.
When you find yourself in a worship service all knotted up over what everybody else is doing, or not doing, then you may not have come to the place where you are so overwhelmed with Him that you don't even notice what's going on around you. When that happens, you won't be drawing a spiritual assessment on how well your fellow worshipers are doing. You'll be overwhelmed by grace.
When Jesus is all you can see you, will finally know what freedom in worship is all about.