Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Celebration Time

Anyone who knows me knows that I take the Bible very literally when it lays out the structure of our church services.  The Bible is very clear that our services should be ordered and structured and people should not act in such a way that draws attention away from God and onto themselves.  However, I do not believe that church services should be morbid occasions where any show of emotion is considered unseemly.  I have been to churches such as that.  I have been to a wedding in a church where at no point in the service was any kind of applause allowed, not even at the end.  Also, this morning in the news there was an article about a young woman who is battling a horrible infection that has cost her dearly.  Apparently, after many days and surgeries, after being counted all but dead, and after losing a leg, 2 hands, 2 feet, and part of her abdomen, she is awake and talking on her own.  The father received this news and kept quiet in church even saying that his fellow worshipers would not appreciate his outburst.  While I have serious concerns about their faith considering other comments they have made, I do hope that his brethren would not have been put off if, after receiving news like that, that he jumped up and praise God for the news he had received.
And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.  But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.  Mark 2:19-20 NKJV
Then Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw [it], gave praise to God.  Luke 18:42-43 NKJV
The passage about marriage Jesus poses the obvious absurdity of fasting during a wedding or even in the lead up to a wedding.  It was a time of celebration, not a time to be somber.  This same symbolism is used in the parable of the virgins, the marriage supper of the lamb, the wedding where Jesus turned water into wine, and others.  A wedding, that being a wedding done in accordance with the Word of God (ie. A Christian marrying a Christian and not including any kind of plural or homosexual marriage) is a time of celebrating.  There should be joy.  There should be clapping, feasting, celebrating, and praising God for the union that He created.  This is not taking glory away from God, but giving glory to God for the joyful work He performed in bringing those two believers together. 

As for illness, the example I have is but one of many I could have chosen.  When Jesus healed someone, they rejoiced, celebrated, and gave glory to God.  I realize there are times that Jesus told them not to let anyone know how they were healed, but that was not to say that they were not to glorify God.  Quite honestly, if God did not want anyone to know about those healings, then why would He have recorded them in the Word of God for all of us to read?  The fact is that if you are in the middle of church and you receive news that a miracle healing had come through that you (and the rest of the church) were praying on, I would say that that you should rejoice.  The reason why is given in the example I used.  When the healed man gave glory to God, the others witnessed what had happened and also gave glory to God.  When they gave glory to God, news of what Jesus had done spread to others who also would glorify God and seek after Jesus.  This, again, is not an example of just drawing attention to yourself or a distracting form of worship, but it is giving the glory right to God.  It is sharing a miracle that God has performed.  It is encouraging others who are also waiting on God.  It gives great joy to all who were praying that God heard them and answered in a profound way.  God performs miracles as a testimony to Himself, the joy of that work is meant to be shared to spread that testimony.  Please, do not hold back sharing those wonderful works God has done in your life. 

There are times when God does something so truly amazing in our lives that it is a struggle to hold back the joy.  Don't fight it. I know, especially for stoics like me, it is hard to just let go and show the emotion we are feeling in our hearts.  True strength, though, is not in holding back our emotion out of fear of what others may think, but in not being ashamed of sharing and showing that joy with others no matter what they think. 
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: " 'Blessed [is] the King who comes in the name of the LORD!' Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"  And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."  Luke 19:37-40 NKJV

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