I have been thinking about this question for a while, as I’ve been visiting churches in the States, and with regard to my home church in Scotland, and I’m really not sure what would happen. And the more I think I’m not sure what would happen, the more I think we need to think about how we do church. Seriously. Perhaps I need to clarify my question here.
I am fully convinced that the Lord is present with us on Sunday mornings at CentrePoint Church … where two or more are gathered in His Name … He is enthroned upon our praises … it pleases God when we get together and praise Him! What I’m asking is what if He showed up in power? What if He started moving… leading people — individuals — putting words on their hearts to share, or songs of praise for them to sing? If I was the pastor, would I let them share? Or, would I suggest they speak to me about it after the service and we can put it into the schedule for next week?
What if God showed up with miracles? What if He started touching people in tangible ways, so that all they could do was lay on the floor and soak in His presence, or laugh, or cry. What if He wanted me to walk across the church and pray for someone — unable to have children… or unable to hear … or missing a leg? Is my ear close enough to His chest that I would hear Him directing me? Do I care more about what He thinks than anyone else — enough to be obedient and not worry about what would happen if He didn’t “come through”?
What if God showed up and told us all to shut up? What if He wanted us to just take the time to sit together in silence before His throne? To let Him minister to us, to let Him lead and guide us? Could my brain even handle 60 minutes of absolute silence? Without falling asleep or thinking about lunch or the next episode of LOST or where the girl sitting next to me got her boots?
What if God wanted us all to get on our knees together to pray quietly — or heaven forbid for many of us Charismatics — to recite some last-century liturgy? To meditate on a single verse and hope we could grasp a tiny piece of the infinite truth God wants to reveal to us?
My question isn’t “Is the Lord present?” but, “what if He really shows up” to call sinners to repentance … to challenge each of us to move past mediocrity … to lead each of us to bring to the table the things that we have for the rest of our fellowship of believers — whether it’s sharing a prayer, a word, some food, a song, a laugh, a joke, a poem, a work of art, a testimony, a sorrow, a triumph, a hug, a deep place of personal struggle and need — what would that even look like?
I’m concerned that if the Lord showed up, we might shrug off something He would like to do, because we already have the service planned out. Or we don’t want to freak out our first-time guests. (Or, personally, we have to be out of the cinema by 12:30) Is the fact that we already have the whole service planned out a demonstration of our lack of confidence in the Lord perhaps deciding to just show up and do something amazing in our midst?
In 2 Kings 4, we read about the Shunnamite who convinced her husband that it would be good to make a room for Elisha in their house, because she perceived that he was a prophet, and a holy man of God. She literally made room for Elisha, and so made room for the presence of God. As a result she, who had previously been unable to have children, was blessed with a child. What am I trying to say? Not that if we make room for God we’ll get whatever we want. But that God is faithful to be present in places where people want Him to be. He will take up the space people make for Him in their hearts, in their lives, and (perhaps?) even in their church services.
Mind you, the Shunnamite, the scripture says, was a prominent woman. My interpretation of that? People knew who she was. She and her husband were ‘upstanding folk’ in the community. People watched what they did. They probably had “a lot going on.” The point is, she made room for the presence of God to be a real, tangible part of her life. And this opened her up to the possibility that her life would change completely — which will always be the case, if we welcome God in.
When God showed up in the Shunamite’s life, it wasn’t something she claimed to have asked for — her son — but that change in her life became so special, so important, that she had to go after God for it, for more of it seemed she had lost her son. The time that she had with her son was not enough, and she knew where she needed to turn for more. When she ran to Elisha in distress, it was clear that she was ruined for the ordinary and there was no turning back. One miracle wasn’t enough! She wanted more from the Lord!
If we do not ‘feel’ the presence of the Lord, moving in us, by His Holy Spirit, we might ask ourselves “Well, did I make room for God? Did I leave a space for Him?” And in the same way, if we don’t sense God’s presence in our church, perhaps it’s because we’re doing what we want to do, instead of making room for Him, to be a part of what He wants to do.
I really hope God shows up at my church this Sunday. I have no idea what that might look like, what we might experience, or how we might even be changed. Even more, I hope that when He shows up, we will be open to Him, we will welcome Him to have His way, and we will sit at His feet. I know for sure, if we do have a genuine encounter with the Living God, we too will be ruined for the ordinary, we will want to go after more and more, and we will never be the same.
Friends, I would genuinely love your feedback on this. If God wanted to do something other than a normal Sunday Service at your church this Sunday, what do you think would happen? Comments most welcome! Please reply!