God is to be praised not just in His sanctuary built by human hands, but in all we do and toward all we interact with. If you're embarrassed to praise God openly, fervently and with honest sincerity, the uncomfortable truth is you don't know God at all.
As I travel to other churches, one item seems to arise over and over again. The attitude and action of praising God isn't where it ought to be.
Some churches seem all but lost in their knowledge and expression of praise. Is there a correlation between the lack of fervent praise and the spiritual decline creating a downward spiral of weekly church attendance in the U.S.? Even though there are contributing factors, local congregations experiencing tangible decline will discover a lack of open, honest and fervent praise.
Praising God is more than an attitude of appreciation or an emotion of delight; "genuine" praise is an oral activity and an immediate action founded upon what we see, hear, taste and feel.
Conversely, we do not and will not respond to what we haven't experienced or find little value in. If the score is tied in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and your team's power hitter walking to the plate, you begin to anticipate what could happen. If he then hits a home run that wins the game, you don't think about it or have a committee meeting to consider the benefits. No! You stand up and scream like an idiot who is overwhelmed with what just happened.
The word "praise" should either be used in the second or third person. We could say to a particular person, "You were brilliant this evening!" Or maybe tell others, "She was remarkable last night!" Sharing with others our experiences means, quite literally, fostering a "community of praise" by acknowledging what is praise “worthy.”
That being said, praising a ninth-inning hitter or a local football star is quite different from praising God. What we find praiseworthy in the world around us isn't the same as praising God; it can't be. One may say, "She is great," while in the next breath proclaiming "God is Great!" But just because the words are similar, the foundational meanings are very different. One is the created ... the other is The Creator.
When we praise God fervently and sincerely, it emancipates us from those things "the world" throws at us daily; it allows a Divine breath of fresh air to enter us and begins to free us from the stale air of worldly commonality. When any of us understands and is active in our praise of God, it fosters a collective knowledge of what's praiseworthy and nurtures the deeper understanding that the Divine Reality isn't dependent upon us, but rather we are dependent on it.
God is to be praised because God is God. God is to be praised not just in His sanctuary built by human hands, but in all we do and toward all we interact with. Praising God is neither an option for those who believe nor an obligation; it's an outpouring of an inward understanding that cannot remain silent.
If you're embarrassed to praise God openly, fervently and with honest sincerity, the uncomfortable truth is you don't know God at all.
Rev. Schneider is the president of Bishop's Pastoral College and the pastor of The Rock church of Oak Ridge in Tennessee, http://www.pointtv.org/.