It’s Saturday 13 February, Valentine’s weekend, I’m sitting in the Stadium of Light in Sunderland watching Sunderland v Man Utd. From start to finish, the Utd fans don’t stop singing. Don’t stop encouraging the team, cheering them on, celebrating the past players and achievements. They aren’t just sitting or standing with blank faces, they are pouring their hearts into it.
When we meet friends we smile as we greet them and as we chat with them. As we walk into church each week we greet each other with smiles and excitement to catch up since we last spoke. It all flows naturally for us.
But sometimes I feel that when the service starts there’s a switch inside me that turns off any physical display of affection or excitement of what’s ahead.
Why is this? As I stand and sing songs that talk of Gods forgiveness, Gods power, God fuelling my life, I can’t seem to muster even a smile.
But why are we like that? Do we not know who we are worshiping, who we are cheering on? It’s not a group of guys playing football or a few girls singing on a stage. It’s the creator of the universe! It’s the God who knit us together as we are! It’s the ultimate rescuer! And yet, I can’t even seem to muster a smile as I sing.
Yes sometimes the tunes we sing songs to are very traditional and could do with being amped up and it’s hard to feel happy, but surely the words themselves should be enough to make us at least break a smile, maybe look up, close our eyes or dare I say it, raise a hand. Take “It is Well with My Soul” as an example, written over 150 years ago, not the most upbeat of tunes, but look at the words:
“My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”
- How can I sing these words and not get excited? How can I keep that excitement locked inside me? My sin is nailed to the cross!! Praise the Lord! Why on earth am I not telling my face to show the world how happy I am?
- But what confuses me even more is when we sing upbeat songs. Now when I’m in the car and I hear the start of the song come on, the volume normally gets turned up, I instantly feel excited, happy, pumped and bouncing along as I sing. But as I sit in church, I recognise the song as the band starts to play, I start to feel the excitement flow and as we start to sing, nothing. No smile, no bouncing, my excitement is gone and I’m standing as a statue and I seem to have forgotten to tell my face and my body to express what I’m singing about.
Compare it with this, 4 years ago when I was leading a team of young people on a mission trip to Uganda. We are taking part in a church service in a country thousands of miles from home with no one else we know and yet the same thing happens. We are leading worship with a song and yet we are still so glum. Contrast it with the Ugandans who smiled and danced and even lifted chairs above their heads in praise and worship to God!!
Why do we find it so hard to get excited about Jesus? Are we too comfortable? Have we got it too easy? Or are we simply too afraid to open ourselves up in this way in front of our friends and peers?Are these really suitable arguments or excuses as to why we don’t display our excitement as we worship?
Doesn’t the creator of the universe, the God who knit me together, the ultimate rescuer, deserve more than me just standing and going through the motions?
Oh and by the way, Utd lost that day and yet the fans still kept singing.