Our Current Posture Reflects Our Comfort and Complacency
We’re slouching as we live in our comfortable, Western Christian culture:
- Our churches are soft, accessible, and pleasing to all our senses.
- We can easily attain Bibles, and they come in every shape, size, and color you can imagine.
- Our worship music is artfully crafted and appeals to the majority of the congregation (and if you don’t like it, you can always find a different church that offers another style).
- We’re even encouraged to make our prayer/meditation/quiet time with the Lord as appealing and inviting as possible (with the suggestion that we might skip prayer if it’s not easy or enjoyable): a favorite prayer chair, coffee/tea, lighting, quiet (or music, as you prefer).
Are we being lulled into un-Biblical expectations of comfort? When is the last time you were uncomfortable–physically or emotionally? When is the last time you were physically expressive? Were you on your knees? Were you prostrate before the Lord?
Maybe It’s Time to Make a Change
I’m no better. I have a prayer chair, a favorite pen, and a carefully-chosen journal. My biggest struggle in the mornings is getting my yorkipoo comfortable at my side before I open my Bible. But I’m learning that my quiet time with God can include a taste of communal suffering and can physically reflect my inner emotions. By physically re-posturing myself, I can offer a small sacrifice of comfort and a small expression of my heart to the Lord that helps me remain thankful and aware of His blessings in my life.
A Change in Posture Brings Us Closer to Suffering
Jesus suffered for us. The body of Christ suffered for us. Some in the body of Christ suffer now. But here in our Western civilization, we know very little about true suffering for Christ.
Few of us will need to pray as we’re running for our lives. We don’t generally have to stagger our arrival at church to keep the authorities guessing. We aren’t asked by our pastor to hide our Bibles in order to protect fellow believers. We don’t lose our pastors in the night.
And, to some extent, how sad for us.
There’s a forging of faith in opposition, and in physical discomfort. The apostles rejoiced in joining in suffering in Jesus’ name:
“(after being flogged) they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name.” (Acts 5:40-41).
I think we’re missing out on the spiritual benefits of suffering for Christ. Perhaps we should get out of our chairs, get on our knees and become aware of some physical discomfort to join with the body of Christ in suffering, if only in a very small way.
A New Posture Reflects Our Heart
There’s such a pervasive attitude of entitlement in our society, that sometimes we forget who we are in the presence of God. Our pride–our decorum–can keep us from posturing ourselves properly before the Lord in supplication, in joy, and in thanksgiving.
What if we came to the Lord like the lowly servants we are, on hands and knees? What if we were so overcome by the magnitude of what Christ did for us that it caused us to fall to our faces? What if we longed for the Lord so passionately that our arms lifted up to heaven until they grew weak? What if we were filled with so much joy that we danced through the streets naked before the Lord with no shame, just as David did? (too far?–I had to see if you were paying attention!)
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18: 10-14)
Which posture are you taking? Standing center, square and proud? Or keeping yourself separate, with head bowed, and beating your breast?
Postures of the Heart in Scripture
The Bible offers us endless examples of people (including Jesus) posturing themselves before the Lord for a multitude of reasons ranging from obedience to awe to sorrow:
- Daniel in obedience to the Lord and in defiance of King Darius: “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10)
- The Israelites in awe at the wonders God performed through Elijah: “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord–his is God! The Lord–he is God!’ ” (1 Kings 18:39)
- Jesus in sorrow: “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ “
Whether we need a change of position to connect us with the greater suffering of the church, to properly submit to the Lord, or to reflect the inner workings of our hearts, we need to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit as He moves us. It may not be appropriate to practice this at your local church, but you can start making changes from time-to-time at home.
As you seek for a new way to come before the Lord, take into account all parts of your body: arms, legs, torso, head, eyes. I took some time to brainstorm various positions to try. Feel free to comment below with additional suggestions
Postures for our bodies:
- on our knees
- rooted to the earth, barefoot
- sitting cross-legged
- slow movement
- lying face up to heaven
Positions for our arms and hands:
- arms up to the sky
- open hands
- folded hands
- outstretched to the sides
- working hands (repetitive movement)
Places for our head and eyes:
- lifted up to heaven
- closed for reverence and inner reflection
- eyes open on His creation
I pray that there is a reawakening in our Western Christian culture to physical suffering. Not that we experience it, but that we live in praise and thankfulness that we don’t. I pray that we see a humbling of ourselves before the Lord and a repentance from our pride, apathy, and ignorance.
I know I need to repent. I need to open my eyes to the greater Kingdom of God throughout history and across the world. Do you?