Several years ago on a Saturday night Ron and I went with some friends to a Christian concert. As we walked to the entrance a sweet lady with a broad smile stood waiting to greet us warmly. We found seats near the middle of the auditorium and then settled in for a good time. The group sang their hearts out while touching mine several times. Near the end of the concert they were singing passionately of Jesus’ sacrifice when a disheveled man dressed in worn jeans and a thin t-shirt jumped to his feet near the front of the room with both hands held high in the air. Totally unashamed that he stood alone, he continued standing throughout the song – head up, eyes closed, hands raised. On the way home someone commented on the man, and I remember saying with a critical spirit, “I didn’t mind him doing that, but I don’t think I would have done it.” That’s when my wise friend Paula made a comment that struck a nerve. She said, “I just try to remember that we don’t know what he’s been through.”
That phrase, “we don’t know what he’s been through”, has stuck with me ever since. Who was I to question his motive or criticize his worship? I failed to realize that my WHAT had become more important than my WHY. I knew the WHATs of religion, but it took me several years to embrace the WHY of my Savior. Those who have suffered gut-wrenching, heart-breaking defeats understand despair. They quickly realize their need for some Holy Spirit power and a downpour of God’s amazing grace.
Realizing our own tendency toward deathly self-righteousness in contrast to the life-giving message of the gospel tenderizes our hearts with humility. Security found in God’s love allows us to confront the things that don’t look like Jesus, then repent, and toss them out. This Sunday is Easter. What better time to resurrect our WHY?
Listen to God’s word explain the gospel in simple terms (emphasis mine):
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted.” (John 3:16-18a, The Message)
“Now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” (Colossians 1:22-23, NIV)
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39, NIV)
“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24, NIV)
A victorious WHY puts all our WHATS in their proper places. A victorious WHY changes the way we see others, how we see ourselves, and the way others see us. This past Sunday we sang one of my favorite songs, “Love on the Line” by Hillsong. (I placed it at the end if you’d like to hear it.) There are two phrases in that song that create brilliant word pictures I so wished I had written: “Mercy roars like hurricane winds, furious love laid waste to my sin.” There’s great power in those statements, and then comes the part that never fails to wet my eyes: “To the One who has rescued my soul. To the One who has welcomed me home. To the One who is Savior of all, I sing forever.” After all these years, I finally understand that worn man’s passion for worship!
Since I can never find words adequate enough to explain the difference I feel inside, I decided to let a picture be worth a thousand words. Please watch the following video (just 3 min.) and notice the difference in how this man sings the same song twice. Pay attention, not only to the the man singing, but also to the men sitting around him as they begin to witness his transformation. This one gets me. Every. Single. Time. (Email viewers, click here for video.)
I was blind, but now I see!!! May we all celebrate victories in Jesus this passionately! Happy Easter!
(Email viewers, click here for “Love on the Line” by Hillsong Worship)