Most people expect a courtroom of calm dignity where there is respect for the judge and the legal process. In fact, the judge is often addressed as Your Honor. It would be counterintuitive to hold a trial dealing with people’s future in a chaotic setting. However, the same judge is not expected to be a stodgy, solemn or dull person outside the courtroom. He might well be a clown at his child’s birthday party.
Would not the same logic apply in a worship service of the Lord’s people? The Apostle Paul does list some wise behaviors that keep the worship from becoming a chaotic endeavor (1 Cor 14:26-40). One person at a time is to speak while the others listen quietly “…for the strengthening of the church.” (v 26) Things are to be done in a fitting and orderly way (v 40).
What about the verses that tell us to rejoice and leap for joy (Lk 6:23) (Php 4:4)? Many other scriptures give the Christian reasons for great joy and celebration (1 Th 5:16) (1 Pe 1:8). Indeed there are also several verses from the Old Testament where people shout and sing before the Lord (Lev 9:24) (1 Ch 16:33) (Ezr 3:12) (Ps 20:5). Both Psalms 66 and 81 say, “Make a joyful NOISE (not a whisper) to the Lord.” In the New Testament James tell Christians to sing songs of praise when they are happy (Jas 5:13).
A secular judge may preside over matters of life and death. Christ’s elders do something much more important than that. They watch out for the souls of their brethren (Heb 13:17). They are worth more than the whole world (Mt 10:28). They need to do this with dignity and concern, and yet, it can also be a joy not a burden. Certainly our worship can be a joyful dignity. Christians can be cheerful and happy while they worship in an assembly or in everyday life.