Charismatic With Seatbelts

So, this morning on the way to work I was worshiping with what has been my favorite worship CD for at least four months now.  No exaggeration there!  The Hill Song United – Live in Miami double CD download has been in my CD player in my car for at least four months.  Anyway, there are a couple of times during the CD that I find myself slightly annoyed with people that I can hear in the audience who will all of  a sudden scream or yell out.  Its like I and the other worshipers are in the middle of this powerful atmosphere of worship and then all of a sudden its shattered by a piercing whistle or scream, obviously from someone who want to get attention or get there noise recorded on the live CD so that they can tell there friends, “Listen, wait for it…wait for it…There!  Did you hear that?  That scream was me!”

At this point you my reader are either for me or against me.  You are either sitting there shaking your head up-and-down and and saying, “Yah, why are people so selfish.” Or, you are shaking your head from side-to-side wondering where I am going and hoping I will put the breaks on my judgmentalness.  Well I have good news for the latter.  Not only am I putting the breaks on but I am doing a 180!

As I sat there I all of a sudden felt a serious check.  Who am I to get annoyed or angry at someone who is screaming out in the audience?  Who am I to point my finger and act as though I know what their motives are?  I am no one I tell you.  What is more, I am dead wrong!

I began to consider phrases that I have heard concerning the display of emotion during time of worship in the church.  Many of these phrases, not all of them, but many came from quite dead or dying believers whose last experience with God was at church camp when they were fourteen.  I can still hear one elderly pastor’s wife telling me, “We don’t need any emotionalism or pew* hopping in the church.”  Then there is a good pastor friend of mine who likes to say that he is “Charismatic with a seatbelt on.”  Now initially I was far more in agreement with these  assessments as I saw them as checks against the potential for emotionalism running rampant in the Body of Christ.  As of this morning I am fully against them and see them as straightjackets on the move of the Spirit and basically a form of control and a “quenching of the Spirit.”

Now hear me out.  I am a big proponent of what I like to describe as “reciprocating tension” in all things Biblical.  In other words, being a human myself,

I know that we have a propensity to be dramatic and to heavily lean to one side or the other.  We like to be all for or all against, especially in Western culture.  When you study church history you can see how the pendulum swings to and fro as one generation stands vehemently against a certain mode of belief and then the next stands on the other side of the room, passionately supporting the opposite stance.  Since we are thus, I believe that most of the time, the proper place is living amidst the tension between the two extremes.  For this reason, I initially liked the idea of being “Charismatic with seatbelts.”  Until this morning.

Have you ever been to a football game or concert?  Have you ever gotten annoyed because the person next to you was so into the game or entertainer that he or she was screaming their head off in giddy delight and/or stupefied anger at the opposing team?  Truth be told, I think few have considered that type of person obnoxious, you are at an event after all, and that’s just what people do. Very few of us have considered how seemingly insane people tend to act at sports events and concerts.  It’s only in the church that we get annoyed by such behavior.  Wow!  How seriously ludicrous does that sound?  You mean you are all for someone expressing insane-asylum like emotions at a football game but get uneasy and start to judge the girl next to you in church who is singing and worshiping with all her heart?  How dare you! How dare me!  We sound a lot like David’s wife who ridiculed him for his “foolish” act of worship.  You remember the one?–Where he worshiped right out of his clothes and into his underwear?

Let me come to a close here.  Our worship should have the freedom to be as undignified as it needs to be.  If you are experiencing the power of God then there are a serious set of emotions that come along with that experience.  Don’t hold back!  Don’t feel like you have to wear a setbelt and suppress emotions just because most people in the church would look at you funny…because the irony is, the day before those same people were probably sitting on the couch having repeated screaming outbursts and cheers for the University of Texas Longhorns football team!  The only seatbelt you should have is the Holy Spirit.  Just be led by the Spirit, that’s all. I am not condoning disorder per say…I know that the Holy Spirit works in a “structured” manner…but sometimes our definition of structure and “order” is not inline with His definition.  And for those of you who, like me, are worried about someone acting crazy just to put on a show and not truly engaging in an act of genuine worship, I will tell you what Jesus told the snooty disciples who came to Jesus complaining that others were preaching in His name:  “The one who is not against us is for us.” What is more?  Just rejoice, as Paul did, in the fact that Christ’s name is preached, even if the motives of the preacher appear to you to be misaligned.  Chances are you need to take off the seatbelt and experience the Freedom of Christ.  I don’t know about you, if I really believe that “He who the Son sets free is free indeed,” then that makes me want to jump and shout and flip and express my full gratitude and pew* jumping sounds especially exciting.  I once was dead and blind, but now I see!

*I find it quite amusing that whether by design or Freudian in nature, part of the definition of “pew” on Wikipedia is an “enclosed box”.  You mean like a coffin?! Hilarious!

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