Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Complexities of Lifting Hands in Worship

Whether or not one raises his/her hands in worship is not a good test of spirituality. I am not saying that lifting up your hands in worship is not Biblical. I am just saying that it is not the test of spirituality. I have lifted up my hands on occasion during worship, but I always felt uncomfortable. Of course there was a fear in me that the people around me would associate me with the Benny Hin bunch, but the main reason why it was uncomfortable was simply because IT WAS UNCOMFORTABLE. My arms get tired. After about 10 seconds of lifting up my hands my arms start to fall asleep. I have some heavy duty arms and my lats are not quite in shape enough to hold them up for extended periods of time. I guess you could call me a weakling. I guess if I really loved the Lord I would go work out my lats a bit more so I could lift up my hands in worship. I am not knocking on you if you lift up your hands in worship. I am sure that that is a wonderful way of expressing your love to God. But honesty, isn't it kind of weird?

"I Love you GOD! And This is how I am going to show my affection for you! STRETCHING STRETCHING."

I am sure that sometimes God is up in Heaven saying, "WOW! Now that's devotion. He must really mean that song. I had my doubts. I had my doubts until I saw those hands in the air."

Why is it that those who raise their hands in the air only raise them at certain times in the music. When the music hits its high note? I think it is because they want to raise their hands, but they know they can't raise them for the entire song so they have to plan it out so that they don't waste their lat capacity too quickly. So they lift up their hands when the song seems to say something about our lost condition. Then when the song transitions to something about the deity of Christ they lower their hands. Then when the song goes to the death of Christ they shoot them right back up.

I think those who do this are afraid of looking like quitters. They are afraid of looking weak, so they conveniently take breaks when the lyrics are at their low. Doesn't this say something about the teaching in the songs we sing. I lift up my hands when I totally agree! I lift up my hands when I get REALLY excited. Well what about those times when you don't have your hands raised? Do you disagree with the teaching? Is that specific teaching boring? (By the way, I am being sarcastic).

I can remember the days when I had strong lats. I can remember lifting up my hands. I would lift them up and my arms would immediately feel awkward and tired. Similar thoughts went through my head, "What if I put my arms down now? I mean what are people going to think? I have only had them in the air for about 12 seconds. They are going to think I am a major quitter." So I would hold out until the theology of the song got boring again and I would let my arms down sssllloowwwllyy, very slowly. You know, with emotion.

We have all watched people lifting weights. I love watching someone lift too much weight. Their whole body begins to bend and shake. They can't quite get it up. I wonder if my body ever did that when I was trying to keep my hands in the air for too long? The guy behind me starts to position himself behind me.

What about the one hand in the air stunt. I think people do that when they don't love God enough to lift up both. I think it is a window into their spiritual life (I am just kidding). I was never so low as to lift up one hand alone. I am going to have a baby boy in a couple of months. The first thing I am going to teach him is, "HEY BOY! It is either two hands or none." I think that should be the rule. You either really love God (2 hands) or you don't at all. There is none of this one hand stuff.


Garrett said...

Raising two hands is good as an expression of devotion, but what about doing a handstand ON TOP OF A STARCH CAN!!!

joe schmoe said...

Yikes! It sounds like someone really offended you by suggesting you are unspiritual if you don't raise your hands in worship. I'd be offended too, if someone suggested that to me. That's just wrong. Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart(I sam. 16:7).

Your thesis here is right on, but the rest of the post makes the reader forget that you started with a good point. Making fun of that style of worship probably does more harm than good to Christendom (Eph. 4:1-3). I mean really, if you want to challenge the way people think, making fun of them is not exactly the best way to do it (I cor. 13:1-3).

Remember that David DANCED when moved by the spirit of God?? I've never danced in church (or anywhere else in public for that matter), but the point is that worshipping with our bodies is a viable option (not just a goofy one for weird people).

Worship is an expression of reverence, love and devotion to God. It can be expressed in an infinite number of ways. 15 minutes of weekly corporate singing may possibly be the least of the ways to worship God, but many Christians have reduced it to that. When people get very hung up on a very small issue like this, I think God is very disappointed.

As for discomfort, I find nothing in scripture that suggests it should be a criterion for decision-making. I have felt uncomfortable in very charismatic environments when my worship may have been viewed as unspiritual, and I have felt equally uncomfortable in more liturgical environments when my worship may have been viewed as too weird. I've tried not to let my discomfort influence the way I worship. After all, it's between me and God, not me and the people around me.

(Just in case anyone is thinking this...I don't want to hear anything about our witness. We do not need to alter our worship in order to make Jesus more attractive to others. That is a politically correct heresy of Northamerican Evangelical subculture. We must worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Do you know any Buddhists, Hindus, Witches or Tribal Spiritists who temper their worship so outsiders will want in? God is big enough to draw the hearts of unbelievers without us laboring over whether pure-hearted worship will turn them away.)

My suggestion is that you find some time alone, turn on a good worship CD and turn off all the lights. Close your eyes, worship God and let your body do (or not do) whatever it wants. You might stand still, kneel quietly or sit down. You might find your hands in the air or your face on the floor.

In the future, you might want to sit in the back pew at church (even when you're the pastor). That's what I like to do. Then you can avoid the distraction of worrying about what people around you are thinking.

Jimmy Snowden said...

I have no problem with lifting hands in worhship. The ONLY reason I don't lift my hands in worship is because it makes my arms tired. I was not making fun of those who lift their hands in worship. I was just offering a little bit of humor. We Christians are a strange breed and it is ok to see those stranger sides.

Jessy said...

i just don't think joe schmoe knows you very well.

Moe Bergeron said...

But God's Word has the following commandment for you to obey:

1Ti 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

Now if you are like Moses who need a little arm holding then look to your brethren to help your weak frame to keep them arms up.

Other encouraging texts:

Psa 28:2 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.

Psa 28:2 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.

Jimmy Snowden said...

check out the tag, "humor." I was kidding in this post. I hope you didn't take it seriously.