Summary: A healthy enthusiasm for serving God will encompass both reverence and celebration.
Title: Cutting Loose for God
Text: II Samuel 6:1-5 and 12-19
Thesis: A healthy enthusiasm for serving God will encompass both reverence and celebration.
This text is both one of the most intriguing and off-putting stories in the bible. In my reading this week I happened upon the musings of a professor from Princeton Theological Seminary who questioned whether every text in the bible can be preached. He concluded that there are a few that fall into the category of “un-preachable.”
Our text today falls into the category of “strongly questionable.” If for no other reason, the fact that at the center of the story we find David dancing with absolute abandonment before God and the world makes it a controversial text.
Many here today were raised in a church culture in which dancing is forbidden anytime and anyplace… especially in church. What David did would have gotten him censured in many Christian congregations.
If we look the Merriam-Webster to help us understand the nature of the enthusiasm with which David danced we find that “enthusiasm” is sometimes defined as religious fanaticism. “Enthusiasm” is strong excitement of feeling. And to be enthusiastic means to be a person who is ardently attached to a cause, object, or pursuit or one who tends to become ardently absorbed in an interest.
The key word seems to be “ardent” which is characterized by warmth of feeling typically expressed in eager zealous support or activity. “Impassioned” is a synonym for ardent.
You might be wondering why the word “enthusiasm” would initially be linked with things religious in nature.
“En theos” is the English equivalent of the Greek words which mean “in God.” And the word “enthusiasm is derived from the Greek work “enthusia” which comes from the word “en theos.” So when we say that we feel enthusiasm it literally means we feel like we are in God or have God inside us. (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_En_theos)
People whose enthusiasm is expressed with great ardor tend toward behavior we think of as “fanatical.” A “fanatical” person is an “enthusiastic devotee” whose behavior is marked by excessive enthusiasm.
How many among us today are feeling so “en theos” that your behavior is marked by excessive enthusiasm?
My suspicion is that there are some of us who are wired to be enthusiastic and others of us who are not. Enthusiasm is a pre-disposition for some people and for those folks there is nothing that does not interest and excite them. Others of us can be enthused if there is reason to be enthused… and we can actually behave in excessive enthusiastic behavior on occasions that warrant it.
I have friends who are enthusiastic and sometimes fanatical about their passions. I have a friend who is a wine maker. Another is a movie buff. Many of my friends are sports fans. I have a friend, who recently on Facebook, asked his friends for suggestions for light reading for his vacation. He is a literary enthusiast. These people, like all other people, are selectively enthusiastic. In other words, they aren’t enthusiastic about everything and they aren’t enthusiastic all the time.
I don’t think David was enthusiastic about everything all the time either. However, I do believe that David is a model for us in recognizing the goodness of God and celebrating those occasions. In other words, everyone who looks for the goodness of God will be enthusiastic in his or her response to that goodness.
Some occasions compel us to celebrate.
I. Sometimes God’s goodness makes us cut-loose in celebration.
David and all the people of Israel were celebrating before the Lord with all their might, singing songs and playing all kinds of musical instruments – lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals. II Samuel 6:1-5
Indiana Jones enthusiasts among us will recall the story of The Raiders of the Lost Ark in which Indiana Jones is pitted against the Nazis who have found the Lost Ark of God. They believe that in possessing the Ark, they have captured the presence and power of Almighty God, which will make their army invincible.
Historically the Ark of God or the Ark of the Covenant began in Exodus 25 with the instructions God gave to Moses for its making. Specific instructions were given for its size and design. They were to place the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. God told Moses that the Ark was the place God would meet with him and the Ark was the place God would give his people instructions. The Ark of God represented the presence, power, protection and blessing of God and it was to be carried by two poles slid through rings on either side and never to be touched.
The Ark really existed and many to this day believe it exists still… but meanwhile it is lost.