As we entered the compound of DOVE Khungema on Sunday morning, children outside the church were jumping and shouting in response to the beat of praise music inside. It reminded me of the sheer enthusiasm of children.
This is one aspect of expressing faith in which the African excels. In the city of Nairobi, as in many western contexts, we have learned to be guarded. We carry ourselves with sophistication. But a worship service in rural Africa is usually a conglomeration of dancing, clapping, jumping, crying, ululation, sweating… all of it as an expression of worship to the Most High God. Nothing is reserved.
If there is anything in this world worth getting excited about, it is not a sports team, a political campaign, an academic prize or an athletic victory. No — it is Jesus and His love!
Another example: a child of around 4 years was seated several rows in front of me on a recent 15-hour flight from Doha to Chicago. Much of the time he was sleeping, but when awake, his mother was having a very hard time keeping him quiet. He was watching a children’s program and wearing earphones. Every few minutes he would burst out in song, obviously singing along with whatever he was watching. She kept saying, “Shh, be quiet,” or “Don’t make noise.” But despite the rebukes, his free spirit would break through over and over into jubilant melody. He was just genuinely enthused about his experience.
When the ark was being brought to Jerusalem, David danced before the Lord with “all his might.” Even though that landed him in problems with his wife, he defended himself by saying “I will celebrate before the Lord. And I will become even more undignified than this” (2 Sam 6:21-22). That sounds like enthusiasm to me!
From what I have seen of children, they do not hold back; they give full effort. So if we have to choose between zeal or protocol, I know for sure which of those options would be called ‘child-like.’
And Jesus said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”