Responding to God in Worship

Last week I made an appeal for our whole congregation to respond to God in worship with every part of their being—mind, heart, and body—with an unapologetic emphasis on the body. My appeal was grounded on clear statements from the Bible and on our self-professed intention to base our church practice on its teaching. Here are a couple other reasons for physical expressiveness in corporate worship.

First, God is glorified by our physical expressiveness. When God’s glory elicits a response from every part of our being, we magnify His worth more than if our response is always restricted to certain aspects of our being. To illustrate, when I express my affection for my wife by holding her hand, I magnify her worth more than if I just serve her by walking through the mall with her. Both forms of love signal her worth; combined, they do so more powerfully. Our responses to God ought to be gauged by His worthiness and His word, not by our own preferences or the actions of others.

Second, our body and our soul are inseparably linked. Our body responds to what our soul feels—for example, greeting someone at the airport with a joyful hug, celebrating a touchdown with shouts and fist pumps, or honoring an outstanding performance with spontaneous applause. It would be strange indeed if our worship services were the one place where our bodies were forbidden to express what our minds are comprehending and our hearts are feeling.

It is worth noting that this soul-body connectedness works both ways. Sometimes our body responds to what our heart feels, and sometimes our heart responds to what our body does. Practically speaking, we can encourage our own heart to feel something more deeply by expressing ourselves physically. Sometimes raising my hands in praise to God is exactly what I need to get my soul feeling full of praise for God.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.  3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.  4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. Ps 63:1-4