Maybe on Saturday, not on Sunday. We have mocked the holy rollers. Does dancing fit worship? Consider these truths:
- Dancing can be godly. The Bible gives examples when it is not (think golden calf or Salome before Herod). But if the Bible exhorts worshipers to dance, it can be godly. Then it’s also like God (check out Zeph. 3:17 and the prodigal’s homecoming dance). Hey, Jesus told the story.
We try to get spiritual—and God gets physical. Think baptism, the Lord’s Supper, laying on of hands. Dancing can be a great way to get physical. It both elicits and releases joy. It’s a physical way to get spiritual—quick! But first we’ll need to overcome awkwardness. Jews have us beat. Their culture sets them up for dancing—guys as much as gals.
- Dancing is a Biblical expression of worship. Let’s learn from the Hebrews. The command to love God includes our strength. The exhortation is clear: “Let them praise his name with dancing…” (Psalm 149:3). The next verse tells why: “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people” (4). We celebrate because He celebrates. Psalm 150 calls for everything that has breath to praise the Lord, with dancing. King David used his body, to God’s delight and Michal’s disdain.
Our Sunday exercise is standing and sitting. Christians have a reputation in the world as anything but fun-loving. Not the Son of Man. Mainline churches emphasize reverence more than celebration. Not Israel. When they crossed the Red Sea, Miriam led the dance. When David returned from war, women rejoiced with singing and dancing.
- When joy leaves, so does dancing. Spiritual revival was accompanied by its return. “You have turned my mourning into dancing” (Psalm 30:11). Silence is not the most effective way for expressing joy. People in sorrow tend to be more passive: “The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning” (Lamentations 5:15). C. S. Lewis wrote, “Expressing an emotion prolongs the emotion.” It is time to let the joy out—with voices and bodies. There is “a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Sunday’s a great time.
- Dancing illustrates grace. Jeremiah spoke of a new day, when God would demonstrate His love. In that day “you shall adorn yourself with timbrels, and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers” (Jeremiah 31:4b). The new day would be marked with dancing—and it came with Jesus and the year of Jubilee (Luke 4:21). The Bridegroom came—let’s dance! He’s coming again. Get ready for the Party!
- Dancing should be restored to worship. David danced “with all his might.” Michal said he was dancing before women, but “it was before the Lord…” (2 Sam. 6:21). Most Biblical references to dancing are religious rather than cultural. For Hebrews, dancing was a form of celebrative worship. Today dancing is more social than religious. Can we restore it to our life of worship? Would that please God?
Worship is ultimately a heart matter. A paralytic can praise the Lord with the same intensity as a person with two good legs. Nevertheless, the Scriptures speak to us by exhortation and example. Is God calling us to a greater demonstration of love and joy in worship? Do you think that dancing could help? Could we give it a try? Get ready for fun!