| Arkansas Baptist State Convention
C’mon, Give the Lord a Praise Offering, Amen?
Posted on Friday, January 23, 2009
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Did you notice my new haircut? Do you like it? What do you like about it? Why haven’t you said anything about it? Don’t you care that I look nice?
Now try this: I have a new haircut, amen? Praise God for this haircut, amen? Aren’t you glad God gave us haircuts, amen?
There is something unseemly about begging for positive affirmation regardless of our need for it. And usually, when we are required to ask for a positive response, it is because none would be forthcoming otherwise. We place those who hear us in the position of affirming something they would have simply observed had we not forced their affirmation. Furthermore, when we elicit “amen’s” repeatedly, we trivialize the heartfelt, spontaneous “amen”. But for those of us in ministry, the real tragedy here is that we substitute a response to our prompting for a real response to God. If a congregant says “amen” that is a good thing. It is a better thing if he repents of sin, or gives, or submits to God’s call on his life. These things may or may not be marked by a vocal response to the ministry God uses to stir his heart.
Ministers of Music who call on congregations to “give the Lord a praise offering” usually are asking that we applaud. Applause, like “amen” is a good thing. And when it is spontaneous, it indicates that something significant has occurred and that those present are affirming it. On the rare occasions when something I have said has met with applause, I have been extremely gratified. But had I been forced to ask for applause, my wife and sons would have been embarrassed for me. Some would suggest that the MM is actually asking us to applaud God, just as the Psalmist told us to “praise the Lord”. Well, He certainly is worthy, but I note that I am only asked to applaud Him after a song or musical presentation. And when someone suggests that we applaud God, who can refuse?
The comparison of the elicited response to the spontaneous response is the comparison of the shadow to object that casts it.
Years ago I attended the Grand Ole Opry (before it moved to Opryland). I loved it. But an announcer made sure that the audience applauded, shouted or verbally affirmed every announcement, the Martha White commercials, every song, every corny joke, and even every yodel. It was a good show, but because of the prompting, we applauded corny jokes with the same enthusiasm as we applauded Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line”. Too bad.
And all God’s people said…?