This past Sunday evening, my wife, daughter and I took our monthly turn caring for young children during the evening service. I had been looking forward to being in the auditorium to watch the baptisms, but that didn’t seem possible. I regretted that until Jesus gave us a little lesson in joy.
Since we were caring for only two boys, ages 2 and 3, we decided to take them to a nearby lobby to watch the baptisms on closed-circuit TV. The last person to be baptized was a friend with some special needs. In the past year, several of us have ministered to him, and have delighted in Jesus’ change in him, and in ourselves as well. Like me, many in the auditorium were silently celebrating, savoring the sweet moment.
Our friend testified of that grace. Then, as he came up out of the water, there was a ripple of applause, a rarity in our services. Hearing this, one of the little boys with us joined in with a joyful, exuberant “Yeaaaa!”
“Out of the mouths of babes,” we often say when a young child says something cute with an unintended meaning. But this was beyond cute. It was exactly the right response to great things Jesus had done! (Fittingly, the child who made this joyful noise is named Asher, which means, “happy”).
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more of our worship were like Asher’s? Why isn’t it? Are we too worried about what others might think? (Maybe they will think that we’re too excited about Jesus).
Do we fear becoming too Charismatic? We should worry less about being Charismatic and more about being automatic—as in routine, scripted, worship-as-usual. Please don’t misunderstand. I am a strong advocate of reverent worship that respects the awesome character of God.
But there are too many invitations to joy in the hymnbook of the Bible (the psalms), to think that our emotionally tethered worship has captured the exuberance, as well as the reverence that befits God’s awesomeness. Repeatedly in Scripture, God essentially invites us to “cut loose” when telling Him how we feel about Him. Consider a few examples:
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth! Psalm 66:4
O come, let us sing for joy to Yahweh,
Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation! Psalm 95:1
Shout joyfully to Yahweh, all the earth,
Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises! Psalm 98:4
O clap your hands, all peoples;
Shout to God with the voice of joy! Psalm 47:1
I sometimes wonder if God grows weary of us holding back on him. I’ll confess that I’m among the most guilty. But those days might be numbered. As Jesus continues to raise His treasure value in my mind, the invitation to respond accordingly is becoming less and less resistible. If there’s a joyful shout sometime soon in church, it might be coming from my corner.
How about joining me?