Warning: Exploding Heads, Naked Dancing, and Fire

When I hear how people, who claim to follow Jesus, the One who came and rattled the religious establishment and political machine until they killed him for it; the One who showed us a new way to love, and worship, and serve; the One who sent the Holy Spirit to baptize in fire, when those people judge other Jesus followers for being fiery–

I think my head might explode.

Then I remember a story in the Old Testament Bible about a king, a holy box and naked dancing. Well, sort of.

There was a King named David and a holy box called the Ark of The Covenant. It was built to specs given by God to Moses and passed down through generations of Israelites. It held their most precious artifacts and God’s presence rested on it.

When David became King, he planned to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem. But when he went to retrieve it, David witnessed a face melting display of God’s power like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the Bible version, two men were moving the Ark on oxen-pulled cart. When the oxen tripped, one man reached out to steady the Ark. Immediately he fell dead. David was so rattled he left the Ark at a home nearby.

After three months, David heard about the abundant blessings falling on that household, knew he needed that blessing on him as he ruled over God’s people, so he went to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant. King David led the parade all the way to back to Jerusalem—a little over 9 miles—dancing, blowing trumpets, shouting their excitement. All of Israel was celebrating too.


David’s wife, Michal, looked out the window, saw David stripped down to his priestly underwear, dancing down Main Street, and “despised him in her heart,” felt scorn for him, hated him for his abandoned worship of God.

Interestingly, the word used here to describe how Michal looked at David is the same word used to describe how the giant, Goliath, looked at him right before David took him out with a slingshot.

After installing the Ark in the custom-built pavilion, David went home, saturated in God’s presence, intending to pass the blessing onto his household. Michal met him with judgement and sarcasm. She derisively pointed out his place in society, lack of propriety and threw in an accusation of vulgarity to top it off.

I propose we do the same when we sit in judgement of how someone worships. When we decide their expression is improper, not suitable, or vulgar, we become just like Michal.*

Our own comfort, our own idea about what is “acceptable” or “proper,” becomes the litmus test for what we accept. The problem is, we don’t know what is going on inside that heart.

Who are we to judge their tears—or their shouts—or their dance? And we shouldn’t. Leave the judging to Jesus.

We never know what someone is fighting for, or rejoicing in.

When a miracle happens, the world will hear about it.

When the mute find their voice, there will be shouting.

When the broken get healed, they will gasp at the wonder.

When the blind see, they will exclaim at every new sight.

When the lame walk, there will be dancing, and leaping, and jumping.

What if their shout was shaking loose a load of shame?

What if those waving arms are telling the enemy, “Look over here, there’s more with me than with you? You better run, devil.”

What if those open hands are lifting the weight of a sick child, or a broken marriage, or a wounded heart to Jesus because they have come to the end of themselves?

Maybe that body on the floor is there because the beauty of Jesus is more than they can stand.

Maybe that person is shaking because they are seeing God more clearly than ever and he has overtaken them with his awe-filled power— 

Maybe deliverance is happening because darkness always, always, ALWAYS fleas when the Light penetrates.

Maybe that person has been pursuing more of God and as an answer to their prayer Holy Spirit has ignited something in them that just might set their whole city on fire.

What if your judgement is throwing water on the very thing the Spirit of God is setting on fire?

We can’t know what is going on but we can choose to never, ever, water down the flame that is being lit.

If what you see makes you uncomfortable, perhaps your eyes are on the wrong thing. So close your eyes and look for Jesus yourself.

If don’t like their expression of the Spirit moving, relinquish your right to be offended then invite him to make a move on you.

You never know, you might be the next one our Good Good Father spins into a fire-dance.



Worship is a picture of the Gospel in motion.
Tommy Walker, Billy Graham Association





*Please understand, I am not talking about someone who is operating out of order or in defiance of leadership, but those who choose to freely, and vividly, express their worship.

See 2 Samuel 6 for the whole story

Photo by Ahmad Odeh on Unsplash

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