Grace, Praise and Worship

We are loud and boisterous – it’s all grace

© April 4, 2018 | Schulter Etyang 

A study of the two most populous faith’s on earth — Islam and Christianity reveal something peculiar almost distinct. The Christian faith is one that has a people who sing, shout, dance and praise their God when they congregate. This is not so within the Islamic faith. This is not in any way a put down on Islam. It is just a contrast worth-noting.

Jenny and I live near a mosque. We usually hear the Islamic call to prayer early in the morning and in the afternoon. The call to prayer is called adhan. When Muslims gather to pray, singing, shouting, rejoicing and dancing are conspicuously missing. Interestingly, there is no mention of dancing and shouts of joy in the Quran.

This is not to say that Muslims don’t sing and dance. They do. They sing and dance at weddings and parties. In strict Muslim traditions, the men sing and dance, separately from the women. The distinction between the Islam and the Christian faith is the presence or absence of singing, dancing and shouts of joy to their God when their adherents congregate.

Most Christian services or gatherings start out with singing and in charismatic churches, singing and dancing. They sing out songs of praise to their God. The worshippers lift their hands in worship. In charismatic churches, there is exuberance and dance — just like David danced in 2 Samuel 6:14. We call it the time of praise and worship time — before the Lord’s supper or preaching. Even in traditional conservative churches, the service begins with singing songs to the Lord. 

Old Testament

Singing has been very much a part of the Christian faith since the dawn of creation.

Job 38:4-7 (NKJV)

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

God put Job on trial and as the advocate that He is, questioned Job on matters that Job didn’t have a clue. In his questioning, he reveals that as he laid the foundations of the earth, the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy. Right at the onset of creation, we witness singing and shouting for joy.

Right at the onset of creation, we witness singing and shouting for joy.

When King Solomon finished dedicating the temple, the glory of the Lord filled the temple. When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshipped and praised the Lord, saying, “He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3) At one instance as they went to war, God commanded them to sing about His grace. What a strategy? I wouldn’t do that. The result? They won the war without lifting a finger. (2 Chronicles 20:21-30)

Zephaniah the prophet said this,

Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

God rejoices over the nation of Israel with singing — a portrait of a God who doesn’t only receive praise but also sings — rejoices.

New Testament

In Luke 15, Jesus shares three stories about a lost sheep, lost coin and on both stories when the sheep and coin are found, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God. Heaven is full of rejoicing, Christians believe. It’s not a sad and empty eternal place. It’s a place full of joy. Hell, on the other hand, is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, sorrow, sadness and emptiness. Why? There is the absence of grace. 

So singing and joyfully singing is very much integral to the Christian faith. We sing and dance when we congregate. We sing and dance in weddings. We sing in funerals. We sing when we have times of personal devotion. We sing when we are sad. We sing when we are happy. We sing, dance, rejoice and shout joyfully.

Why are we loud and boisterous?

Why do we sing, dance, rejoice, and shout joyfully? Psalm 146-150 point out two main reasons why we praise God

  • We praise God for the things he has done in creation — For creating the world we live in.

Most importantly, 

  • For grace — God showering us with His grace — giving us what we don’t deserve. 

We praise our God for all the good that He does to us and for us, we who are the most undeserving. God gives grace to the weak. Grace to the immigrant or foreigner. Grace to the fatherless and the widow. Grace to the hungry and naked. Grace to prisoners. Grace to the blind. Grace to the oppressed. Grace to the brokenhearted. It’s all grace.

For grace — God showering us with His grace — giving us what we don’t deserve. 

Christians respond to what God has done for us and continue to do for us with shouts of joy, dancing, singing and rejoicing. That’s why our gatherings are sometimes loud and boisterous. Don’t confuse that with worldliness and being uncomely before a great God. No. It is an expression of gratitude for what God has done for us, doing for us and will do for us at the unveiling of the new heavens and new earth. 

In the meantime, we dance, dance, dance…

In the words of Justin Timberlake

Nothin’ I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance
Feel a good, good creepin’ up on you 
So just dance, dance, dance, come on
All those things I shouldn’t do
But you dance, dance, dance
And ain’t nobody leavin’ soon, so keep dancin’
I can’t stop the feelin’
So just dance, dance, dance
I can’t stop the feelin’
So just dance, dance, dance, come on

Can’t Stop the Feeling! lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

That’s what grace looks like

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in: Grace, Praise and Worship

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Schulter Etyang leads The Life Place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Schulter is one whom Jesus loves. He loves his wife, Jenny, and enjoys reading, travelling, cooking, running and playing squash. He also enjoys conversations with friends about Jesus and about life.