Val and I attend a large church. This allows for some variety with worship music and, though there is an official worship leader, a group tends to rotate through as the months pass. We’ve had everything from gospel to youth, men, women, national artists guest leading for a week, and a choir. There is one young woman who stands out every time she’s up there.
You know the one.
She hits the high notes extra high and runs Mariah Carey-esque trills up and down through Chris Tomlin’s latest hit, eyes closed, hands gesturing and face scrunched up to show just how hard she is leading worship as she orders the audience to join in, pray, let go and take part.
In case you haven’t experienced this yet, remember that worship directing us to the stage and not to God is not worship.
This morning, the writer and speaker Donald Miller posted on his blog about living a private versus public faith and why he has leaned more towards private recently. He cited the passages in the Bible where Jesus tells us not to be like those on the corner, making their good needs known to all, but to go to God in secret.
This stands, like Jesus always did, against all of society today.
What if we changed things?
Imagine an end to the social media debate, to politicians claiming Jesus on their side in an effort to win votes. Imagine Hollywood actors and actresses not thanking God at the Academy Awards. Imagine pastors not telling the media that they will light themselves on fire because of the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Let’s break it down a little further.
Jesus didn’t say he’d make us millionaires, famous, beautiful, or influential. He said he’d make us free.
Free from the race, the hustle of humanity, the ever-expanding yard stick that we’ll never reach because it will never stop. Free from the lens of this world, the gaze that will keep criticizing from the grasp of moral relativism.
Free to say, we don’t have every answer and to love those different from us, the ones on the fringes that need a face-to-face encounter with the love of Jesus before they’d ever enter a church.
Free to pray, on our own, and spend quiet time with God, to help a neighbor and not email our small group about it.
When I was an undergrad in college, Val and I attended a church near the school and the pastor asked one night, “If this all burnt down and we had nothing, no building, no stage, no candles or instruments, how many of you would come back and worship your God on a pile of ashes?“
This week, try some private time with God. Burn off the distractions. Kneel on your own pile of ashes and be thankful because you are still breathing and your work isn’t finished yet, because even in the darkness, you are never alone.
If you or are friend are looking for some new reading material this week, two of my books are free on Amazon for the next four days. You can download my novel, The City, or my book on writing titled, Lazarus Art by clicking the link here.