Did you get a chance to watch the message I blogged about last week? You know, the one where Stovall Weems jumps up and down like a maniac shouting "We are the church! We are the church!" Well if you didn't, don't walk... RUN over to this website and check it out. It's that good!
Once a year the organization that planted our church has an annual conference that attracts thousands of pastors from all over the world. It is the organization's opportunity to speak into their lives, since these pastors are the ones speaking into ours on a weekly basis. Because Lil was only five-months-old, I decided to stay at home with the kids this year and Josh went without me, which was the best decision for our family. But at night I would put the kids to bed and turn on the online streaming of the sessions, so that I could "be there" with him. For this particular message, I put the laptop on the kitchen counter and listened while I cleaned up before bed. But within about ten minutes, I couldn't help but to just stop what I was doing, sit on the couch, and listen.
For those of you who did not listen to this message (again, you're missing out!) the message stems from a time when Mr. Weems was listening to a political speaker address a large crowd. Do this for me for a moment: think about the atmosphere at a political rally. Okay, you can feel the excitement, right? Let's say it's a candidate you're excited about (wouldn't that be a nice change?) and you're there. Now imagine how the crowd erupts into crazy cheers and applause at just about everything this political figure says. He is firing up the crowd, making promises, and with each statement the excitement builds and builds. By the end people can't help but to be jumping out of their seats, yelling and screaming for this person.
Or... when's the last time you went to a rock concert? Did you leave the arena completely hoarse from singing at the top of your lungs and screaming your head off all night? For a band? Which, when you think about it, is just a group of people?
Ok, now this one should ring true with most of you... when's the last time you donned your alma mater's (or favorite NFL / NBA / etc.) colors and rooted on your favorite team? And most of the time, you're not even at the game! You're jumping up and down in your living room yelling at a group of people moving a ball down a field.
Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the kinds of enthusiasm listed above. I think it's great to be passionate about things and I think it's fun to get excited about the things you're passionate about. I, for one, will proudly sport the most obnoxious color of orange and cheer on my beloved Tennessee Vols any day... whether they are good or bad (which is unfortunately the case lately). But this message did so much to me because it was the first time I was challenged to think about who and what I openly and publicly worship. Ouch. Conviction can punch you in the gut sometimes, can't it?
I grew up in a traditional church environment where we sang hymns and solemnly recited prayers, quietly worshiping God. Now again, don't get me wrong... there is NOTHING wrong with that. It's worship, it's meditation, and it allows us to have some quiet moments to clear away distractions and really focus on the Lord. But on the flip side, why is it that we scream wildly for a political figure, a rock band, a sports team... all PEOPLE of human flesh... and yet we rarely (if ever) display this behavior toward our God? C'mon y'all... we would not even BE here if it weren't for Him. He created you! He gave you life! The Bible teaches us that every blessing comes from above... and isn't your life full of blessings? In fact, those things we love to cheer for are blessings, and those abilities we're cheering for... well, HE gave them to those athletes, musicians, and politicians! So at what point do we jump out of our seats and give our mighty God and savior the credit and praise He deserves? And why is it that when we do so outside of a contemporary church setting or a conference, retreat, etc., that we're looked upon as crazy zealots? Nobody thinks that about you when your chest is painted bright blue and you're outside shirtless in the freezing cold! Why is it okay to cheer like that for a sports team... or for a PERSON... but not for our God?
By the end of this message, Stovall is jumping up and down shouting "WE ARE THE CHURCH! WE ARE THE CHURCH!" He is so very unashamed, alive, and... well... FREE! He's the perfect demonstration of the freedom that we're given by being followers of Christ! It's not about rules and regulations to live by (although the Bible offers clear guidelines on how to live a better life) but about being FREE from our sinful pasts, guilt, fear, and shame. A politician will make promises that he can't keep, but God has never broken a promise. A band may fall victim to the temptations around them (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.) and let us down, but God saves us from those pitfalls. All sports teams (yes, ALL) have losing seasons, but God wins in the end! The Bible tells us how it's all going to shake down and guess what? He prevails! Isn't that something worth celebrating? I think so! This country is going downhill fast because of what we choose to worship, but if could all get out of our comfort zones a little bit and truly cheer for the One who gave us life, created our world, makes the wrong things right, convicts us when we're going astray, gives us hope, life, and a future... well... maybe WE could turn it around.
So get out of your chair, jump up and down, and yell it with me... "WE ARE THE CHURCH!" Let's celebrate God's glory loudly and proudly together this week, this month, this year. Let's be His biggest fans.
As always, if you've written reflections about our weekly topic on your blog please link up below or leave comment. You can find Brittany's reflections over at her blog (found here) and next week's topic below.
It's Brittany's turn to choose the next topic and I have to say that I'm quite excited about it! She writes...
"As for next week, I came across this blog by Lysa Terkeurst, and it really struck a chord with me. I think so often in ministry and even in life as women, the word "friendship" becomes very hard to understand and hard to navigate. This was a fresh reminder that we are all a "package deal." I think it would be a great idea to share what we gathered from her blog post and if you are feeling extra transparent maybe a story about a time when you had a "friend situation" and how God used that to grow and challenge you!
(PLEASE OMIT ALL NAMES)"
Have a fantastic remainder of your week, friends. And thanks for sharing and letting me share with you.