For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. – Romans 14:7, KJV
Just a simple and short observation. I have begun to reflect on my past Church and the worship that was practically mandatory at every service. I don’t mean the singing of hymns, special soloists and songs. The culmination of every service was the altar-call. This was our response to the preaching and in essence was the measuring stick for how good the service was. The more wild it was, the longer it lasted (the altar-call), the more powerful the ‘move of God’ was.
I don’t remember anyone smiling, ever.
That’s a strange observation to make when considering the joy of the Lord. In fact, thinking about it now, worship was an exertion. Your face is always wrinkled and scrunched up with the strain of praying. The sweatier you got, the more you were ‘getting in’ to the Spirit. This was called ‘worshiping in the Spirit’ and it was often marked by shouting, jumping, rolling on the floor, shaking each other in prayer, much weeping, endless ‘speaking in tongues’ (and I don’t think 99% of it was really speaking in tongues), wailing, and sometimes, when someone was ‘really in the spirit’ they were ‘slain in the spirit’ and would convulse on the floor or shake themselves silly.
Dancing in the spirit was random, rapid and exhaustive spinning, jerking and convulsive movements that I really can’t understand how it was considered as being inspired by God. David danced before the Ark of the Lord but somehow I can’t imagine it looked like he was having a seizure.
I’m not attempting to be critical of others worship, but I have to (in retrospect) wonder how I thought that was worship! We heard things like, ‘If you are really thankful for what God did for you, you would worship’ and this is a true saying! However, if your worship was what was considered passive, meaning you just raised your hands and talked to God, it wasn’t real worship. In fact, I can remember some people (visitors) were considered just a little strange when they smiled and looked up as they raised their arms. When people did they, they weren’t serious and the ‘prayer warriors’ moved on to someone else.
Two words describe what my minds eye sees as I remember observing the Pastor and others worship around the altar; constipation, exertion. Somewhat crass I know, but often a word or two can describe the environment. Everyone looked pained as they prayed, prayer was loud, your abdomen got a work out from shouting and straining.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. – John 4:24, KJV
Let your worship, however you do it, not be forced, following a pattern to fit in with the crowd. But let your worship be in faith, love, joy, holiness, animating your thoughts, words and actions in reverence of the God who has given you everything!
Is there a right/wrong way to worship? Maybe, or probably not. But I have to ask the question, if your worship looks hard, painful, strained and convulsive, does it have Joy?