How to Enjoy God with your Whole Self
How to Enjoy God with your Whole Self
According to the Westminster Catechism, we were created to glorify God and enjoy him forever. And we weren’t created as brains in a jar. God put our brains in bodies. He wants us to enjoy him with our whole selves. As the greatest commandment says, love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. With your muscles. With your arms and legs.
[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]You put your arms up at a game when your team does something amazing. Why wouldn’t you raise your arms when your God does something amazing?[/perfectpullquote]
You put your arms up at a game when your team does something amazing. Why wouldn’t you raise your arms when your God does something amazing? When you’re at a game, don’t you enjoy it more when you get your whole body involved? When you jump, cheer, and do the wave? It’s the same when you go to church.
That’s why the Bible gives so many possibilities for what you can do with your body while you’re worshiping. Opportunities to enjoy God with your whole self. Here are six examples:
Psalm 22:23 says, “You who fear the LORD, praise him! Stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!” That’s why at Harbor we stand in awe when we worship, just like Moses stood in front of the burning bush, or like when the Israelites were in the wilderness, and the pillar of cloud came to the entrance of the tabernacle. Everybody stood up, because whenever God is present in the people, people stand in awe. When we’re worshiping at church, we stand in God’s presence.
We also stand to show that God has saved us, and delivered us, and cleansed us. Psalm 24:23 says, “Who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” And who’s got clean hands and a pure heart? Nobody. No one can stand in God’s holy place, except for Jesus. When he died on the cross, he took away our filthy hands and our impure hearts, so now we have the privilege of standing in God’s holy place. We should be hiding under chairs when God shows up, and instead, we get to stand. But then, you can also…
Micah 4:4 says, “Every man shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.” Sometimes it’s good to sit in quiet, silent contemplation. Just sit and drink in the peace and security and rest you have in Jesus.
In Hebrews 10 it says that unlike the priests in the temple who stand to perform their sacrifices, Jesus sat down. Why? Because all his work is finished. There’s no more for him to do. There’s no more sacrifice to be made. He can rest, and so can you. During worship, you can purposefully sit and savor the fact that there’s nothing more you can do to make God happy. Jesus already did it at the cross. You can rest in Christ.
Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!” Maybe you’ve seen the series on Netflix called The Crown. Whenever the Queen of England enters a room, everybody else stops whatever they’re doing. They stand still, and bow their heads. When they’re actually meeting the queen, they do a full-body bow down on one knee. They’re just so honored to be in her presence.
Sometimes at church I see people go to the back of the room and kneel down before God for the same reason. They’re just so honored to be in his presence.
4. Raise Your Hands
Psalm 134:2 says, “Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the LORD!” When you raise your hands, you’re saying that you want to glorify God with every part of your body, which symbolizes every part of your life. There’s nothing you’re holding back from the experience of enjoying him.
Sometimes you can raise your hands like you’re lifting up your prayer to God: “Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary” (Psalm 28:2). I’m crying to God for help, lifting up my request to God, and waiting for him to answer me.
You can also put your hands out to receive: “In your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:4-5). I’m saying, you’ve given me give me fat and rich food, Lord. Ribeye with garlic mashed potatoes. Molten lava chocolate cake. You’ve blessed me so much! So I’m just holding out my hands to receive it.
Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” Sometimes you just have to give God a hand. Maybe you’ve been on a plane ride where the turbulence was so rough and the landing was so hairy that people actually applauded when you landed. You had to celebrate. “We’re safe! We made it! We’ve been delivered from death!”
Well, we’ve been delivered by Christ from a much worse death, and so sometimes we just need to applaud that fact. In fact, at the end of this age, when Jesus delivers the whole world from the effects of sin, and the creation isn’t groaning anymore, Isaiah 55 says even the trees of the field are going to clap their hands. “We’re finally free! We have to clap for that!” That’s how we feel sometimes in worship. We just have to applaud God’s power and goodness.
Psalm 33:1 says, “Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!” There’s shouting all through the Bible, like when God lit the altar with fire for the first time, all the people shouted. When they were standing outside of Jericho, all the people shouted. That’s a shout of faith. It would have been easy to shout after the walls came down, but these people were shouting before God did a miracle!
You don’t have to wait for God to do something amazing in your life to shout. You can shout in anticipation of the good things he’s going to do. Sometimes you’ve just got to shout! Belt out an Amen!
Physical expression is a necessary part of enjoying God, because your hands follow your heart. Your physical being reflects your emotional being. It just happens that way.
When your team scores a touchdown, your hands go up to celebrate. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to command your hands to go up. It just happens. When your daughter says “I love you, daddy” out of the blue, you don’t have to tell your arms to go out and hug her. It just happens. When you lose someone really close to you, you don’t have to tell your eyes to start shedding tears. It just happens.
So why should it be any different with God? Why shouldn’t your hands follow your heart? Because the reality is that your team won! The game is over. Jesus defeated Satan, sin, and death at the cross.
It’s time to celebrate!