Consider the following scenario:
The speaker was engaging and entertaining. He reached that part where the music began to kick in. Then the singers began softly singing that song that the people had particularly enjoyed which conveniently also fit the wha tthe speaker had said. This time it wasn’t played in the upbeat way it had before. This time, it was softer, slower and smoother.
As this took place, people in the room felt that degree of sombre and reflective – you could just sense it. At some point the singers stopped singing, but the musicians played and the speaker made a soft appeal. He didn’t want people to come forward at first, he just wanted people to bow their heads and keep their eyes closed and if anyone had felt that the message spoke to them and they wanted to respond, now was the time to do so just by lifting up their hands. Everyone else was supposed to keep their heads bowed and eyes shut. The speaker gave time for people to respond with lifted hands. Then once they did that, he invited those who had done that to come forward. To encourage them, he suggested that everyone else applaud them for taking this step of faith.
The numbers began to stream forward. When there seemed to be enough the speaker led them to repeat the prayer he would go through line for line. Then on the strength of that, there was reason to celebrate what had taken place and there would be follow up for all those who sought it. At that the speaker finished, the music went up in volume and changed a little to be a bit more upbeat and brighter. People were smiling, crying and hugging each other because of the encounter they had experienced.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way disregarding very real encounters people have had with God on these occasions. I am happy to accept that people have had their breakthroughs, deliverances and life-changing episodes at these settings. I am delighted about it and grateful to God that He honours those settings by showing up and making those changes.
The thought I have, though, is that for some this is the only set up in which God shows up. The encouragement is to get friends and loved ones specifically into these settings – ‘our atmosphere’ – so they can ‘feel the presence of the Lord’ and ‘hear the word’ and as a result say the prayer and be saved. It’s as though God does not do the job in other settings, in other ways. It’s as though the speaker has to be just so, the music is essential and the singers have to be on point.
All I’m suggesting is that useful though that setting is, there is ample in the Word of God to say He is able to work through believers who are not eloquent, who don’t have the musical backing, who don’t require people to repeat things in parrot-fashion, but do have faith in God and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s great to know that God will use anyone who trusts in Him to be able to give others a chance to hear and believe the good news of Jesus, to repent, to receive the Holy Spirit, to be healed, to be delivered from addictions as well as other aspects of mental and spiritual captivity. It’s great to know that God will do this whenever He wants, wherever He wants, through whoever He wants.
Think about it. This can take place in the work canteen as you’re sharing your experience with Jesus over a cuppa. This can happen when you see the need for someone to receive a word of encouragement while you’re doing the shopping (yeah, even shoe shopping – God is that amazing and powerful). This can happen on a coach trip after visiting an art gallery. Experiencing the presence, power and peace of God can take place anywhere and can happen through you if that’s your desire. It does not require whipping up an atmosphere. It just requires that faith and lifestyle that expects to encounter Jesus anywhere.
Knowing that should help us in our approach to what we do when we gather and what we do as we engage with others in the course of everyday life.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden