Fearless vulnerability is not just something we need in relating to our fellow fallen people, but to our Holy God as well.
Many of us stray too heavily toward one aspect or the other with our God; either we become overly focused on our vulnerabilities or we are overly fearless in how we approach Him. Neither one respects both the work God has done in us and for us, nor the immenseness of His ages-long plans and the mercy that we have a place in them.
- If we go before God vulnerable but afraid, we can often miss what He’s trying to work in us—we are so frightened of being rejected or unloved because of shame, shortcomings, past mistakes, etc., that we do not allow ourselves to be in truly life-giving relationship with Him.
- If we go before God fearless but without vulnerability, we don’t have our ears tuned to the awe-inspiring majesty of our Maker or the place we hold in His purpose—we’re liable to disrespect His holiness and miss what He’s working in us for entirely different reasons!
It’s when we come before God with a blend of fearlessness and vulnerability, fully aware of His redeeming love and also humbled by His saving work in us, that we are at our best—vessels ready for the outpouring of His loving direction and the power of his holy spirit gift. That’s the starting point from which we enter into a state of perpetual worship.
What Does Worship Mean?
In this case, I’m referring not to worship as in a worship service at church, but to worship as a way of holy living—the kind of worship I believe will encompass our entire future in the Eternal Kingdom, where we honor God through righteous living forever and ever.
Worship is not just something we engage in by singing and dancing or lifted hands, it’s a way we honor God in our lifestyle. In order to do this properly, we need to be fearlessly vulnerable.
Fearless Vulnerability and Worship – How Do They Collide?
Jesus told us in the Gospel of Matthew that man cannot serve two masters; he will always love one more and the other less. Different masters are constantly vying for the Christian’s focus—the Master we surrendered our lives to when we accepted Jesus as Lord, and the tempting masters of power, wealth, love, popularity…the list goes on. Often the urge is deep to say no to worshipping and serving God in public ways for fear of what others will think of us. I like what pastor John Bevere says to this condition: “It is easier to not offend the person we see rather than God Who we do not see.”
But to take the stance of denying service and worship to God in order to please others is neither fearless nor vulnerable; it’s cowardly and closed-off. Going along to get along serves no one when it leads to compromising our beliefs or denying God the worship and respect He deserves.
On the other hand, rubbing “religion” in people’s faces is never the best answer, either. So how do we live out a life of worship with fearless vulnerability? What is a good witness and a glory and honor to God?
A Biblical Example of Fearless Vulnerability in Worship
For our example this time, I want to examine the life of King David. Specifically, his fearless vulnerability in front of the people of Israel when it came to worshipping and serving the Lord.
We learn a lot about the relationship between David and his God throughout the course of books like 1 and 2 Samuel and Psalms. Not only was this relationship passionate and dear, but that feeling was not one-sided. The Psalms are full of epithets from David to God, calling him a rock, a shield, a deliverer, a mighty fortress, and more; in return, God calls David “a man after [His] own heart.”
Imagine being called that by God Himself! There’s no denying that despite David’s faults, of which there were many, their relationship was real; so much so that upon serving and honoring God by returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, David danced with all his might, shouting with the trumpets ablast.
There are plenty of examples where following God’s leading and being in honest relationship with one’s Creator might’ve made a more image-conscious man run for the hills. Let’s be real—dancing before God and people with all your might takes a lot of fearlessness and vulnerability! In this record, it’s shown that Michal, daughter of Saul—David’s own wife!— “despised him in her heart” when she saw him dancing.
But when it was David and God, nothing and no one else mattered. David worshiped as hard as he loved, as hard as he fought, as hard as he fell and rose again. Even the most cursory reading of the Psalms is evidence of this; you can see David’s heart poured out in page after page. He was not afraid to be broken open before the Lord of Angel Armies, utterly vulnerable in his humanity; yet he was also vulnerably fearless, caring nothing for how his wife, father-in-law, or other people regarded him when he was living a life of upright worship in alignment with God.
This is a precious example to us all. Sometimes being fearlessly vulnerable in worship—be it singing and dancing or living a life that honors God—may cause others to despise us. But when it comes to us and God, nothing else can matter more than worshipping him in proper living, in spirit and in truth.
You Can’t Stand Before God Without Vulnerability
Bringing one’s life and practice to a place of worship requires deep vulnerability. We already know, logically, that we can’t hide anything from God; yet our sin nature often compels us in the footsteps of our ancestor Adam, who hid because of his nakedness in the Garden. In order to be worshipful in our hearts, minds, and conduct, we must be willing to be vulnerable before God; to be humble and repentant, forthcoming with our sins and ready to lay them at His feet.
Vulnerability allows us to stand in the presence of God, fully honest about our flaws and accepting the blood of Jesus that covers them. Then we can experience the depth of relationship and a way of living worship our Heavenly father desires for us and from us.
You Can’t Fully Surrender From a Foundation of Fear
Now, don’t get me wrong – we can and should have a healthy fear of God. He is the most awesome Being in the universe, the Creator, the Maker, the God of Angel Armies. There’s certainly a place for healthy fear and respect of that power and might!
But if we are always frightened of God, we hold ourselves back, keeping pieces unsurrendered, unaccounted, and unatoned for. Relationships only extend as far as you trust the other person with your heart; if you fear God is always looking for an excuse to punish or cast you out, your relationship with Him will remain shallow. There’s no way to be fearful and fully surrendered.
What we are called to do instead is approach our Father fearlessly, in the sense of recognizing our Christ-given identity of righteousness through whom and by which “we have boldness and access to God with confidence through our trust in him” (Eph 3:12,) in order to “draw near to the throne of grace with open and honest speech” (Heb. 4:16).
How’s that for fearless vulnerability—being equipped through Jesus to approach God Himself, on His throne, with frank speech! What a blessing this relationship can be!
When we are fearlessly vulnerable in our worship, open to receiving God’s instruction, hearing His voice, and doing His will even if it places us in uncomfortable positions, we dance in the might of King David—showing people through our actions what it is to be utterly open and in love with our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, and with our Heavenly Father.