Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), founder of the Chassidic movement, was once asked: "Why is it that Chassidim (a chassid is a Jewish religious sect that is characterized by religious zeal and a spirit of prayer, joy, and charity) burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation? Is this behavior healthy, is it really from a sane individual?"
The Baal Shem Tov responded with this story: Once, a musician came to town -- a musician of great but unknown talent. He stood on a street corner and began to play.
Those who stopped to listen could not tear themselves away and soon a large crowd stood enthralled by the glorious music whose equal they had never heard. Before long they were moving to its rhythm and the entire street was transformed into a dancing mass of humanity.
A deaf man who walked by wondered: Has the world gone mad? Why are the townspeople jumping up and down, waving their arms and turning in circles in the middle of the street?
"Chassidim," concluded the Baal Shem Tov, "are moved by the melody that issues forth from every creature in God's creation. If this makes them appear mad to those with less sensitive ears, should they therefore cease to dance??" A chassid does everything with vitality, joy and passion.
Have you ever wondered why some Christians will -- clap their hands to the music that lifts Jesus up -- or will raise their hands towards heaven in praise? I was raised in a Pentecostal atmosphere and I've seen many do these things and more. Sadly, many of todays Pentecostal Christians have used and abused the presence of the Lord with counterfeit behaviors.
But, that doesn't mean we shouldn't jump to our feet and applaud God! It doesn't mean we shouldn't raise our hands and give God Honor. We serve the one and only ALMIGHTY God and we worship Him because of who He is.
God is God -- He made us -- we didn't make Him. We are his people and His well tended sheep! We enter into His presence with the password: "Thank you!" Where we can feel at home -- convey our praise -- and offer Him glory, homage and respect.
And, although I can not translate the sheer beauty of God -- the absolute love and peace He brings into every situation and the unmitigated wonder of being in His presence, I shall forever stand in awe of my Lord and Savior. I might even dance with my Jewish neighbors -- for there is no greater joy!!
My friend -- have you been in His presence lately?