Does Charismatic Worship Go Too Far?

This week, Pastor J.D. answers a question in his recent sermon: “Does charismatic worship go too far?”

Show Notes:

  • Let me give you twin worship principles to hold in tension:
    • Different cultures (and different personalities) have different ways of expressing emotion. Different cultures and different traditions have distinct ways of expressing emotion and reverence and worship, and that’s ok.
    • I’ve learned this most as we’ve tried to make strides in becoming a multi-ethnic church. As you know, pursuing ethnic unity is much bigger than just worship style. But worship is one area where our church has learned a ton from various cultures being involved.
      • For example, we have a lot of traditional Southern Baptists in our church. When they are really into it in church, they tend to sing with a lot of gusto. There’s not a lot of movement in their worship, and many of them can’t even clap on beat, but there’s plenty of volume, especially when we bring out those old hymns. If they get totally into it, they may even lift one arm for a moment like they are trying to ask a question. And if they are experiencing full-on revival, they’ll sway back and forth with both arms bent 90 degrees at the elbows, as if they’re carrying a giant, invisible microwave oven. And when I preach, they’ll let out punctuated, staccato “Amens” when I say something they think is powerful, especially if I alliterate it.
      • Mixed in among them is a sizable number of people who grew up in churches that were a bit more loquacious with their sermon feedback.
    • During worship, a lot of former Pentecostals add in some rhythmic clapping, shouting, and jumping that I don’t typically see from our members who grew up at First Baptist.
    • Our Latino members combine this sanctified enthusiasm with what can only be called a supernatural endurance. For them, anything less than two hours of singing cannot legitimately be called “worship.” I’m serious: the first time I attended a service at our Summit en Español campus, I missed lunch with my family. And I think dinner, too.
  • So here’s the question: Which of these is the correct, biblical way to worship? Amen.
  • What is wrong is when we elevate our preferences and make them normative. Remember what God told Samuel earlier in 1 Samuel? Don’t judge the outside, Samuel “Man looks on the outside, but I look on the heart.
  • I grew up in a church with some of the godliest people I’ve ever known—many lived the most sacrificial lives; they were people of integrity; they were people of deep prayer, people who brought others to Jesus consistently—they were just quieter and less expressive.
    • But I know people who would look at them self righteously and say, “They are not filled with the Spirit.” Man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart.
  • Here’s the other worship principle: All worship should have elements of passion and self-forgetfulness.
    • Remember, “undignified” is the word David used in 2 Samuel 6:22.
      • He said to Michal, “And I will make myself even more undignified than this when I worship…!” The word here implies self-forgetfulness.
      • What David said is, ‘When I worship, I’m not going to think about what people are thinking about me; I’m going to think about what they are thinking about God.” It is true we all do things differently, but the corresponding truth is that all worship should contain elements of passion and self-forgetful expressiveness.
  • More than 20x in Scripture we are encouraged, even commanded, to raise our hands in worship.
    • Here’s just a few examples: Psalm 88:9, “I call for you every day, O Lord; I spread out my hands like a child toward you.” Psalm 143:6, “I spread out my hands to you. My soul thirsts for you like a man in a parched land.” Psalm 28:2, “Hear my cry for mercy as I call to You for help; as I lift my hands…” Psalm 134:2, “Lift your hands in the sanctuary and bless the Lord.”
  • You say, “But isn’t it hypocritical to do something I don’t feel in my heart?”
    • No. Here’s how obedience works: sometimes as you are obeying, when you don’t feel like it, God changes your heart to desire what you are doing. In some ways, your obedience is like a cry to God to change your heart.
    • In fact, here’s a little secret: the posture of our bodies actually guides the emotions of your heart. That’s how God designed us. Psychologists tell us that we are psychosomatic creatures, which means our souls and bodies are intertwined.
    • So, when I get into a posture of surrender, I feel emotions of surrender. When I adopt a posture of reverence, it helps guide my heart to feel reverence.
    • A lot of times we think that the posture of our body is a reflection of our heart; but often the posture of our body serves as the guide, the catalyst for our heart.
  • I want fellow believers to see my worship, who know when I’m going through a hard time, and they see my hands raised and joy on my face and tears in my eyes, when they know everything is going wrong in my life, and they say, “Now, this must be a God worth trusting! This God must be so amazing that he gives you joy even when everything is not going your way!”
  • Listen, I’m not trying to contradict what I said earlier about different cultures and different personalities having different ways of expressing emotion, no one necessarily better than the others. I’m just saying that in all worship we ought to see expressiveness and passion and, sometimes, we ought to look undignified.
  •  We go forward with these twin, complementary truths:
    • Different cultures (and different personalities) have different ways of expressing emotion. (and you’re not the judge of anybody else).
    • All (gospel-based) worship should have elements of passion and self-forgetfulness.

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