Flags in worship

Recently we have seen more people using flags in our worship. Is this a good thing recapturing something biblical or another past-time for the over zealous?

Our initial reaction to most new things can be very subjective. This is no more true than in worship. It can all be subjective – bowing, kneeling, lying prostrate, raising hands, applauding, dancing etc, even singing – some Christians hate singing! Mercifully there are not that many of them!!
The biblical basis for any act of worship is that the outward expression be matched by an inner reality. I was particularly struck by this recently when someone said to me:

“When I raise my flag I become totally immersed in worship. There is no one in my vision but the Lord my God. I am moved to give Him my all. Joy and love wash over me and I declare to ‘powers and principalities’ that my flag represents that we have the victory in and through our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

I wish that that was more people’s experience whatever they were doing!

Waving flags (or banners) has its biblical roots in kingdom theology. Kingdom being one of the two dominant strands (alongside Covenant) that runs right through the Bible. We worship a King who is establishing his kingdom. We pray “Your kingdom come your will be done.” As we begin to talk of king and kingdom, flags make a lot more sense:
  • Flags honour a king
  • Flags declare the establishment or presence of a Kingdom, and therefore a KIng
  • Flags express allegiance to a king and his kingdom
  • Flags express identity to a kingdom

Obviously we see flags used like this in ordinary life. The visit of the Queen or at the Olympics for example.

Here are a few biblical references to flags or banners.

  • Exod 17: 15 Moses built an altar and called it ‘the lord is my banner’
  • Num 2: 2 The Israelites are to camp … each man under his standard with the banners of his family
  • Num 10: 14 Judah led the Israelites carrying the banner displaying The Lion of Judah. Rev 5: 5 Jesus is the Lion of Judah
  • Ps 20: 5 Lift up your banners in the name of the our God
  • Ps 60: 4 those who fear you have raised a banner
  • Song 2: 4 His banner over me is love
  • Song 6: 4 Majestic as troops with banners
  • Isa 5: 26 he lifts up a banner for distant nations
  • Isa 11: 10 the root of Jesse will stand as a banner
  • Isa 13: 2 raise a banner on a bare hilltop
  • Isa 18: 3 a banner raised on the mountains
  • Isa 30: 17 like a banner on a hill
  • Isa 49: 22 I will lift up my banner to the peoples
  • Isa 62: 10 raise a banner for the nations
  • Jer 50: 2 Lift up a banner and proclaim it
  • Jer 51: 12 Lift up a banner against the walls
  • Jer 51: 27 Lift up a banner in the land
  • Ezek 27: 7 Embroidered linen….served as your banner
Would you wave a flag? Why? Why not?

3 thoughts on “Flags in worship

  1. Mixed feelings on this one. I’m not sure that I “get it”. I watched them being used at the NDOP and if anything found it distracting. We also need to think about what worship is, my pastor has reminded us recently that worship is much more than singing and is not just about our emotional response to music or songs. It is total surrender to God. I wonder if the person person quoted above was list in true worship or swept up in emotion?

    • You are right that worship is not just our emotional response. It is an act of the will. That does not mean that are emotions are disconnected. A true ‘act of the will,’ will bring our emotions into line (and more so as our brokenness is healed).
      It is equally worth reflecting that any action – flag waving or siting in stillness – can both be just an emotional response.
      We’re all grateful that only God can see our hearts. It’s our heart that counts.
      From my humble observation the person I quoted loves Jesus deeply. How do I know? Their life demonstrates it. In the end that’s the issue.

  2. Whether a person waves a flag or dances in church it is an act of worship, not a performance. I have danced in 2 churches and on stage for Christian productions. I have always seen it as my worship to God.

    For me it is an emotional response, my one on one communication with God. I don’t do it for others although I have been told that the way I danced has touched people and drawn them close to God.

    We are all different and express ourselves in different ways. Some like to sit and reflect, some like to jump up and down. Both are fine and equally important. The most important thing is to have the freedom to do so and not feel embarrassed or judged.

    At the moment I dance at home when I have my quiet time with God and it is very special to me. Time to heal, time to praise, time to surrender, time to get myself right with God 🙂

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