February 8, 2009 | By | Add a Comment


It was kind of strange sight in what many would consider to be a strange place. There was no rockstar pounding on his guitar or wild-man playing the drums. There were no flashing lights to catch your attention or powerpoint video backgrounds to appease our collective ADD. There were no pretty women on stage for men to be distracted by and women to feel jealousy toward. There was hardly anything up there to evaluate or consider. Actually, there was no one on the stage at all. It was completely empty.

The only thing to look at was the wooden cross in the center of the stage. And, to tell you the truth, it was actually pretty refreshing.

Some things need to be dressed up. My coffee needs a lot of sugar to taste good. A house without decorations doesn’t feel like a home. Some people, feeling the need for enhancement, order the Bowflex or maybe even the Wonderbra. Some things don’t need enhancement, though. They are powerful enough on their own.

And sometimes the temptation for the person on stage is too much to handle. It becomes about how charismatic they are or how eloquently they speak. They start talking about “my church” and “my ministry” and how many important people they know and how much they tithe and how many books they’ve read or sold and how often they pray. They might even start a website with their name as the address.  They love to show off their knowledge (or lack thereof). He might say, “it’s not about me”, but deep down you wonder if him saying it isn’t about him is an insidious way for it still to be about him. It’s a trap that is so easy to fall into.

Soon, people start worshipping the pastor or the worship leader. It’s happens easily, really. Whether it be a spiritual leader or girlfriend or celebrity or athlete, how tempted we are to worship other people. We buy their jerseys and watch Entertainment Tonight to follow their every move. We want them to sign our books or become our facebook friends. Instead of pointing to the truth, Paul Pierce becomes the truth and a glorious angel named “Lucifer” develops quite a following in heaven.

Recently, I saw a lady wearing a shirt from her church. What stood out to me most is what would stand out to anybody most. The reason it stood out so much is because it was in larger print than the rest of the shirt and in bold letters. It was the name of the pastor. It made me wonder who the most important person is at that church and who exactly it is that the parishioners go to see.

And who doesn’t want to be worshipped? I have had plenty of practice in handling failure. It’s success that I have the most trouble with. Things start going to my head and I start thinking that I’m better than others. With sports, I become less concerned with how the team performed and start paying too much attention to personal statistics and getting the recognition that I feel I deserve. I am not Paul Pierce, but I can internally pound my chest with the best of them. Still, it’s a great thing to be recognized. We need encouragement and applause and good feelings about our hard work and accomplishments. What we don’t need is to forget where the gifts and any reason to boast comes from.

During this unique worship service, though, no one was in a position of elevation and no voice stood out too much among the rest. It was a collection of voices from people who sing off key and have farts that smell really bad and sometimes feel so hurt and lonely and betrayed at the hands of others followers that they think they could die. At the same time, a beautiful sound is made. Something in the pain and even deeper than the pain calls to someone stronger than we could imagine. And yet, his strength was in his weakness. Though in very nature God, he took the nature of a servant. He made himself nothing and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory not of the one who must become less, but to the glory of God the Father.

It is a good thing, sometimes, to get away from the noise and listen to the song that rises louder than the loudest set of speakers and hear the story that has more depth and feeling than the most emotional of movies. It is a tale of broken people being made new. The cross is what made it all possible. It is a reminder of things that are finished and things still being done. Things that we can do without and things we need more desperately than ever. It is so central, yet a song some will never hear and a movie that many will never see. They focus so hard on the too often wayward and misguided group of followers that they often miss the person who is so worthy of being followed. Others get turned around by the glitz, glamour and empty promises that find their way into churches sometimes and call people from their first love. If you look hard enough, though, you just might find what you’re searching for or reconnect with what has been missing. And if you listen carefully enough, you might hear the song that has been sung from generation to generation and continues to be sung today. It is the song of the redeemed.

And with our hands lifted high, we come before you and sing.
And with our hands lifted high, we come before you rejoicing.
With our hands lifted high to the sky, when the world wonders why,
We’ll just tell them we’re loving our King.
Oh, we’ll just tell them we’re loving our King

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18

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Category: Musings

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