When I first walked into a church before I was a believer and saw people worshipping God, I thought to myself, 'What are these people doing with their hands raised, singing, praising and even jumping up and down?'
I'd never seen so many people dancing and singing without the help of drugs and alcohol. As I stood there like a statue week after week I was in awe of how happy and free they looked whilst worshipping. Free from the cares of the world, free from the thoughts of other people and I wanted that.
My first year
So for the first six months I would stand with my hands behind my back just watching and I wanted to worship but I would think, 'I'm not raising my hand or praising until I know it's real.'
So for months I would read the Bible whenever I had the chance. One night after church I was reading scripture and this love poured over me, I remember thinking, 'I love everyone.' I was ecstatic, full of joy and at that time was thinking how little all my problems were.
That was my first real experience with the Holy Spirit and I will never forget it. After that I knew God was real, I knew Jesus was his Son, so I started raising my hands and singing because in my heart I knew it was real. Along the journey I started to observe a few things about myself and the practise of worship.
Before I was a Christian I used to listen to all sorts of music like metal, rap, punk; and I didn't see a problem with it. Now when I hear some of the music I used to listen to there is so much pain and sorrow in it and the Holy Spirit convicts me for listening to it.
This conviction happens to so many Christians because it's important what we listen to. There is so much music out there today promoting sex, swearing, drugs and violence; and it is brainwashing people to think all this stuff is normal. Thanks to Jesus there is a solution: Christian music.
When someone raises their hands to worship you will often see a few people around them do the same thing, it's like when someone yawns; it's catchy. Now I have pointed this out, look how much it happens at your next church service. But please do not get self-conscious about when to raise your hands in worship.
Worship in truth
Worship isn't about who can hold their hands up the longest or who can sing the loudest, it isn't about the latest worship band or worship CD. It's all about the truth of God's son Jesus Christ.
I believe God wants us to worship him in truth, and this means we need to have a heartfelt response to him; worshipping him for who he is, for what he has done. God doesn't want lip service, he wouldn't want people to just follow the crowd and fall victim to peer pressure.
He wants us all to worship him for no other motive but to glorify him. He wants people who worship in truth and are care free from the thoughts of others. So I encourage you to worship in truth.
Shane Rowney lives in Tweed Heads NSW, Australia. He is currently studying ministry.
Shane Rowney's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/shane-rowney.html