David Menezes (Mumbai, India)
There are four main religions in the world today — Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism — that cover about 74% of the world's population. All four of these are visibly present in the city I live in, and it's interesting to see how each group of people expresses worship to what they term as God.
Growing up in a strong Christian family, my siblings and I were raised with the habit of going to church every Sunday, and over the years we have had the opportunity to visit many different churches around the world with different cultures and styles of worship. However, the more I read the bible the more I realize that despite the different cultures of worship that Christians adopt, there is one thing that should be uniformly present in all of them in order to make it meaningful — expressiveness.
Being expressive was not a comfortable thing for me. Growing up, I found the act of raising my hands in worship very difficult. Even when I really "felt it" during times of corporate worship, it was a huge step out of my comfort zone. Strangely, now I lead worship and encourage people to express their gratitude to God in various ways — kneeling, lifting of hands as a sign of surrender, clapping, joyfully shouting, dancing and many more examples that the bible mentions.
Here's why: gratitude and adoration that is felt but not expressed has little value.
True worship comes from the heart but it is never meant to stay there. We are called to respond. Recognizing who God is and what He has done for us with grateful hearts should move us to physically express His goodness both in private and public times of worship. It is often a step outside our comfort zone to express the praise to God that He is due, but as we do it, we reap the benefits of drawing near to God's presence and it becomes natural for us to want more.
We are meant to have an expression of worship that is unconditional and unrestrained. One of the most common expressions of worship in churches today is singing and playing musical instruments. It's commonly done and socially comfortable. Unfortunately, what becomes too comfortable can also become monotonous. There's a constant need step out of our comfort zones and break the restraints we come with because He is worthy of all our praise and adoration. We will never reach a place where we can say we have praised God too much.
When I feel like I hit a dry phase in my worship to God, it has helped me to incorporate expressions of worship that is mentioned in the Bible that I have never tried. It has allowed me to go further in unending praise that is due to God.
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel — I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." 2 Samuel 6:21-22