To raise your hands or not to raise your hands… that is the question. Or at least it is for some people.
It seems to me that raising your hands during congregational signing has become something of a ‘litmus test’ of spiritual maturity. A good or bad one? Well it depends on where you’re coming from. As a far as I can tell, there are four predominant views on the issue.
Here are the extremes:
- Everyone should raise their hands- those who don’t raise their hands are spiritually dead, emotionless and can’t love God. Love for God needs to be expressed physically.
- Nobody should raise their hands- those who raise their hands have been swept up in pagan experientialism and false theology. We should lower the ceiling fans to teach them a lesson.
Now most of us don’t go this far. Instead, we opt for a slightly ‘holier than thou’ mentality and suggest either:
- Raising your hands is something that the spiritually mature do- in other words, “You don’t have to raise your hands, but you’re obviously not as passionate about God as those of us who do.”
- Raising your hands is something that the spiritually immature do- this is the camp that most of my friends fall into. “Raise your hands if you want to, but you’re obviously into that ‘charo’ stuff and haven’t figured out real theology yet.”
Perhaps they wouldn’t articulate it quite so starkly, but scratch below the surface and it’s often what you’ll find.
So who’s right?
Neither. The Bible constantly teaches us that, “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). In other words, God cares very little for the ‘posture of your body’ and far more for the ‘posture of your heart’. He doesn’t care whether you raise your hands or not.
God’s people in the Old Testament were just as confused. They believed that God wanted them to sacrifice bulls and goats to him. So they did. What they forgot, however, was that God cared far more about their hearts than their goats.
God says, “Even though you offer me burnt offerings I will not accept them” (Amos 5:22). David says, “You will not delight in sacrifice or I would give it… the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” (Ps 51:15-16). And Jesus quotes, “I desire mercy not sacrifice” (Matt 9:13).
It is entirely possible to worship God in song and have an attitude that is totally repugnant to him. He cares about your heart, not your hands. If you repent of sin and trust in Jesus you can do the Macarena for all he’ll care. Just make sure your heart is in the right place.
So what’s the way forward?
- For those who raise their hands– good for you. Raise your hands for Jesus and do so with joy. Just remember that it doesn’t necessarily follow that you love Jesus more than those who don’t.
- For those who don’t raise their hands- good for you. Stick your hands in your pockets for Jesus and do so with joy. Just remember that you it doesn’t necessarily follow that your theology is better than those who do.
Question: What do you think? Are there any other views that people might have in regards to this issue? Leave a comment by clicking here.