I won’t clap, just because you say so.
There is something about simply being in the presence of God that is contagiously joyful. Whether it’s in a Bible study group or listening to someone’s testimony or Sunday morning worship at church. The more I experience God’s presence, the more I want to praise Him through my joy.
The easiest form of worship, in my opinion, is singing. I don’t deny that exercising love, kindness or even praying require little effort (for the most part). I do, however, find the avenue of singing to maximize my worship in little-to-no time.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoy worship through singing on Sunday mornings. Not only is it a time to praise our Father, but it is also a time of preparation and longing to hear what God has in store from the words of the pastor. A humility of the heart, as it were.
Several years ago, my church back home acquired a new music minister. He was received without hesitation and welcomed into the fold of the church family. The first Sunday, and many thereafter, he would instruct the Sunday morning gathering to praise God and proceed to clap and cheer. However, the words he used were awkward, and I felt almost forced to clap and cheer under duress. I felt conflicted. Why was I resisting, showing physical praise to the Father of my salvation?
This object of affection is nothing new or isolated. Many other churches promote the same, almost pressing, response in worship.
Romans 12:1-2 says “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Several times in Scripture we see reference to the mindset at the core of worshiping. It starts with the Gospel and proceeds to the longing and hunger for the presence of God. Consistently, I pray and sometimes weep for the ability to maximize my worship to almighty God.
I have come to learn, by God’s grace, the reason for my lament.
Happiness is not the equivalent of joy. For example, watching football on TV makes me happy. Watching a good movie, makes me happy. Eating a delicious ribeye, makes me happy. Clapping because I’m at church should not be “happy.”
My praise to Christ Jesus is not reliant on how happy I am. My praise is the convicting, and very least, response to having been redeemed. It is quantifiably minute compared to His sacrifice. We are not appointed as His children to be “happy” about Sunday morning church. We are to be filled with joy in view of God’s mercy!
To view a Sunday morning church service as happy and filled with clapping-on-que is not only poisonous, but unbiblical. Lassoing football and movies and ribeyes and Christ’s sacrifice into the same category is false teaching.
Living in a culture that promotes tolerance, and praises self-absorption, will seep into every aspect of your walk with Christ and understanding of the Gospel, if you let it. The Apostle Paul had several instances where he battled with the same traditionalism and culture impact. Do not stray from the Gospel in order to react to an emotion. Return to the understanding, the love, and the grace of Christ. Clapping and shouting have their place when in response to praising God for His love and ultimate sacrifice. As long as they aren’t the sole response of simply being in a building with other Christians.
Don’t clap and shout because you’re “supposed to.” Instead, worship through the understanding of the Gospel. I pray you continue to hunger for Him.