That woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. I want to be her.
I want to love Jesus with abandon, worship Him without thought of anything or anyone else. I want to give Him all I have, cling to Him with tears enough to wash His feet.
Do you think for a minute she worried about what other people at dinner thought of her, how she must have looked to them, bent over with her face on the ground, crying the ugly cry? I don’t think she even knew anyone else was there. Her only thought was loving Jesus. He was all that mattered. I want to worship Him like that, too.
Here’s the thing: there has been a line drawn between contemporary and traditional worship styles. What we “do” during worship places us firmly on one side or the other.
On one hand, we’re told if you raise your hands you’ve crossed over into the contemporary camp. On the other hand, if you don’t raise your hands, you’re not really worshiping. On one hand, we’re told if we look to heaven with smiles on our faces we’re putting on a show. On the other hand we’re told that serious faces can’t worship, that we ought to look to heaven with smiles on faces when we worship.
Now what? What does Scripture tell us about worship that pleases God?
Very often, especially in the psalms, we are told to worship God joyfully, with singing and dancing. However, very often Scripture condemns those exact demonstrations of worship.
So which is it? Do I raise my hands or bow my head? Do I put a smile on my face or shed tears instead?
The answer, I believe according to Scripture, is “yes!”
What I see in the woman we read about today is someone who took herself out of her worship entirely. Her worship of Jesus came from a humble, selfless, repentant heart. Her worship wasn’t about her. It was about Jesus only.
I will confess there have been times during a hymn or song of praise, my instinct was to raise my hands in worship. But I have stopped myself because I didn’t want people to think I crossed the contemporary line. And there have been times when I was told to smile or clap, but my heart was broken in worship, and smiling and clapping would not have been an honest expression of my heart.
When I read about this woman I realize I’ve put too much thought into what anyone says my worship should look like. Maybe we all ought to stop trying to orchestrate worship to fit our picture of worship, and let God lead instead.
Maybe we all ought to consider our heart’s condition before the Holy God we worship. Raise your hands if that expresses the worship of your heart. Bow your head if that expresses the worship of your heart. Fall at the feet of Jesus and let your tears wash His feet if that expresses the worship of your heart.
Let our worship of God come from hearts that belong to Him, cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and from humble, grateful hearts that can’t help but worship Him. Worship Him with abandon, without thought of whoever is sitting next to you.
And, worship leaders, may I suggest your own worship of God ought to cause you to focus on Him instead of what the people you are leading in worship are doing. Let God move in hearts without your prompting. Jesus didn’t tell the woman how to wash His feet, or where to pour the oil. He accepted the expression of her worship as she presented it to Him from her heart.
Anyway, as I consider my own expression of worship, I pray you will do the same. May all of us worship our Lord as He deserves, from hearts cleansed by the Savior, and focused on Him without thought of anything or anyone else but Him. Worship isn’t what we do or don’t do. It’s whether or not our hearts are in tune with our Holy God.