Making it Weird in Church
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands . . . 1 Timothy 2:8
I grew up in a stoic, Midwest, small-town church, where we didn’t individually express ourselves in worship. There was very little clapping, raising of hands, or shouts of “amen” from the pews. We sat together. We stood together. We sang the same words together. No one did anything spontaneous or dramatic. This is what I know and it’s what I prefer. So, now when I find myself among those who do express themselves more dramatically in church, I feel a little uncomfortable. Vocal outbursts, dancing, and hand-raising make me squirm. It’s bad enough when others do it. I simply can’t imagine doing it myself.
I’d say that it’s because I’m just not expressive at all, but I don’t think that’s the case. While at a football game, I’ll stand, yell, and wave my arms like a maniac. When at the gym, trying to lift a personal best, I’ll let out a guttural scream. In those contexts, outbursts of expression aren’t weird to me. For some reason though, it makes me uncomfortable in church.
In today’s passage, Paul said that he desires that we should pray . . . lifting holy hands. I don’t read this as an absolute rule that carries the weight of other commands in scripture. It seems to be more of a suggestion. Still, while worshipping, it’s common for Christians to lift their hands to God in an expression of that worship. Honestly though, just thinking about doing it myself makes me squirm.
Why is that? Yes, my upbringing has a lot to do with it. I think though that the source of my discomfort is, in large part, due to pride. Because it’s weird to me when others do it, I don’t want to be seen as weird if I do it. I think condescending thoughts when others behave in a certain way, and I don’t want them to think the same thing of me.
This is terrible. Worship is about me and my relationship with God. My expression of that relationship is of no concern to anyone else and I shouldn’t concern myself with anyone else’s expression of worship. My persistent life problem is that I’m continually tempted to make everything about me. What do I think of others? What do they think of me? Worship, or my expression of faith, should be about focusing on God, while abandoning myself.
I’m not there yet. I’m still working on this one. While I do want to abandon my pride, I don’t yet hear God telling me to raise my hands and shout “Praise the Lord!” anytime soon. Still, I promise that I’ll work on it.