This morning, Mandy and I went to the church we used to be members of because some friends were having their newest baby dedicated and we promised we would go. The Pastor of the church is preaching a series based on the characteristics of God, and this morning the sermon was called “God is Holy”. He explained what this means – God is separate and God is sinless, and this should affect how we approach Him in worship. The Bible verses used started with Leviticus 10 (two of Aaron’s sons were killed because they offered sacrifices which they shouldn’t have) and Leviticus 11:44, 45 (“Be holy for I am holy”), which is quoted in the New Testament in 1 Peter 1:16.
The application to us is that we approach God with reverence and awe. There should be joy too, but mostly reverence and fear. God is holy, so you can’t approach him unless you are doing it the “way it should be done” (the words are mine, but the attitude is prevalent in most traditional churches today). That leads to the impression that worship should be subdued (no drums then!), cautious (not daring to enter His presence), and not the way it’s done at some other churches today.
I agree with him in part, though I think it’s slightly misleading. I’ve not done a count (maybe I should) but for every time verses are used to convey that we should approach God in a reverent way, I’m convinced there are 10 more that say we should approach Him with joy, singing, clapping, noise, dancing, tambourines … you get the picture. The Psalms are full of praise and worship that is more lively, full of joy (I mean, really full of joy), and certainly very loud. Yes God is holy, but He wants us to celebrate who He is and what He has done. Yes, we are to fear God, but thank Him that He’s gracious to us. There are times to marvel at His character, but the majority of our worship, I believe, is to celebrate how He transforms lives (in particular my life).
Think about when you were aged 6. Would you rather go to your dad in reverence and fear, ask to sit on his lap, and be too scared to move in case He told you off (for not doing it the “way it should be done”!), or would you rather run to your Dad, jump on His lap, tell Him how great He is, how much you love Him and thank Him for all he’s done for you. I know which I prefer, and I’m thankful I go to a church that celebrates this. We have a lot to celebrate, a lot to be thankful for, and a lot to marvel at. We don’t need to fear entering the presence of God, as if we shouldn’t be there. We should delight to go into His presence because it’s been bought for us. It’s this delight and joy from being with God that is missing from so many churches/Christians.