I love a good show. Don't you? A really good show makes you laugh, cry, gasp, anticipate, and applaud. It touches on all of our emotions.
In Columbia, SC, we have a nationally renown theater called Town Theater which recently celebrated 100 years of bringing excellent stage drama to the Midlands community. My husband and I have enjoyed many shows in that beautiful old building. Our town is also fortunate to have the Koger Center for the Arts (where we recently saw the performance of C.S. Lewis: The Most Reluctant Convert), The Colonial Center, and several other venues where talented performers grace the stage to razzle and dazzle audiences of all ages.
Have you ever been waiting for a show to begin and someone steps up to the microphone and says, "May I have your attention, please?"
Everyone immediately looks toward the person making the announcement. It's a natural response. Sometimes it's a call to order. Sometimes there's an emergency. He or she may ask people to move in towards the middle to make more room for others waiting to get in. My favorite, though, is the announcement that the show will be starting soon.
Lately, I'm hearing another amplified voice announcing, "May I have your attention, please?"
No, it's not the voice of an emcee. It's the voice of the Lord calling His Church to turn her heart back to Him - Her first Love. It's an urgent call to get our lives in order, to move our hearts back into alignment with His, to make room for His holy presence because we're closer than ever to the day of His return.
Is it evident to you that we have strayed away from what matters most to Jesus Christ - devoted hearts who worship Him in spirit and in truth? How our minds have drifted away from the Person of worship and are focused on distractions deemed essential?
If you're not convinced of a major shift in focus, think about when you attended worship services - before the crisis of COVID-19. Where was most everyone's attention centered? The stage.
In many of the places we gather on Sundays, it's become all about everything but Who we've come to worship. Our eyes, hearts, and minds have become so distracted with non-essentials, we've lost sight of what is truly required to worship the King of kings - a broken and contrite heart. (Psalm 51:17)
Maybe our church buildings are empty for such a time as this so God can deal with His people.
Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).
The Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. These are the true worshipers. (John 4:23)
Spirit. When our spirit is one with the Holy Spirit, we're uninhibited, unleashed, and free to offer our spiritual act of worship before the Lord (Romans 12:1-2): a life of sanctification, filled with praise, thanksgiving, confession, prayer, songs, and the reading/hearing of the Word of God.
Truth. Jesus Christ. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me, (John 14:6). No matter what else we think we need to come into the presence of the God, spirit and truth are the essential ingredients. Without these, there is no worship.
True worship occurs when we view and exalt Jesus as our Savior and Lord - holy and just, full of love and grace, wisdom and power, forgiveness and mercy, strength, honor, and glory... and see ourselves as we are -in desperate need of a Savior every moment of every day.
But, instead of recognizing Jesus and ourselves in light of who He is, we've become distracted with all the stuff which crowds out the Spirit's voice calling us to repentance, revival, and renewal.
Christ has invited you and me into a personal relationship with Him, not into a building or a brand or style of worship. Being in the presence of Jesus, relishing in His glory with grateful and faith-filled hearts is what He desires from us. God is searching for hearts full of love for Him and each other. Hearts bowed in gratitude toward the Son who gave up everything to save our souls. But, by the time we've focused on all of the distractions, there is little to no room in our hearts or minds for the overwhelming, glorious presence of God. And we've missed Him...again.
It's time to sit up and pay close attention. God is shaking His people. His voice is crying out to you, to me. Will we choose to give Him our undivided attention?
But this I have against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first (Revelation 2:4, ESV).
God's Spirit presses in to those who are seeking after Him by faith believing, wanting to know Him more. He's drawing near to those who love Him with a whole heart, who are walking in obedience, following His example and teachings in His power and strength.
God is calling to His Church, louder than ever to turn our hearts back; back to our first love, back to what we were created to be - His Bride - His most cherished possession. The Church has been set apart, declared holy for a divine purpose - to display the glory of God.
We are to be ready, on full alert, waiting and watching with great anticipation, for the Groom's return, seeking His face and learning to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And when He makes His grand entrance, every emotion we have will be on full display as He will have everyone's full attention.
What is God teaching you about Himself during these days while the church doors are closed?