When almost six thousand people from 88 different countries, representing a myriad of faith backgrounds gather in one place to worship the same Jesus you know and love, you can’t help but be changed by it. And realize that your perspective is quite small.
I stood on the concrete floor of the Royal Albert Hall, five rows from the stage, turning slowly like the ballerina on a child’s jewelry box taking it all in. Next to a folded seat draped with my damp trench coat, I watched people file into four stories of seats from the crowded city streets of London. Willing my mind to record it like a video camera of remembrance.
God’s presence was palpable.
Back home, I’d been so absorbed in finding time to write, connecting with people online and worrying about my children’s future, that I missed seeing Jesus’ perspective on the world. He was giving me a binocular view of unity and the way he loves mankind from the diversity of the Body of Christ.
But more than that, I realized I was avoiding the uncomfortable truth that sin has left an ugly indelible mark on the world. Not intentional avoidance, but one slow drive around my well-manicured neighborhood, one click on the garage door of my comfort zone at a time.
He’s longing for us to be carriers of Hope to a world living with the absence of hope. And there isn’t just one way to do that.
I stood up during a break and asked the woman seated in front of me if she needed prayer. She nodded to the affirmative, so I prayed for what she requested: more of the Holy Spirit’s power in her life. The sky didn’t crack open and she didn’t leap over seats, but we felt the presence of God as we bowed our heads to humbly ask.
The next day I stepped away from my seat, walked around a galley of people to the row behind me and prayed for a woman who stood in response to the need for healing in her neck. The muscles so tight she couldn’t move her head around while driving to see if the road was clear to pass. A young woman and I prayed over her together and after a few moments, she could move her neck without pain.
Last weekend, I sat in a different kind of theater with my family, waiting for the new Star Trek movie to appear on the screen. As the lights dimmed, the putrid smell of alcohol and cigarettes permeated the air around us. H leaned over and remarked that the person behind us was so inebriated that the smell was leaking from his pores.
I thought about moving to another seat.
I thought about how I don’t like going to the theater anymore. I prefer watching movies on my couch with a blanket draped over me; eating popcorn from my own bowl, instead of a cardboard box.
I thought about how uncomfortable the seats are, how I have to swing my legs over to the left or right because the person in front of me leans too far back in their swanky theater seat, invading my personal space.
I thought about how loud the plastic wrapping sounds on the candy people were opening behind me, how when you are drunk you aren’t considering other people.
And then suddenly, I thought about how I sat crumpled up in the Royal Albert Hall just a few days ago, seated around people I didn’t know, listening to Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury say, “The key moment for Christians is when we realize what Christ did for us, not what we do for Him.”
So I repented of my hypocrisy and prayed for the person behind me as I watched Klingons threaten someone’s life from the Enterprise. He didn’t stand up and ask for prayer but I boldly asked the Lord to heal him. Deliver him of his addiction and let him know he is loved in a tangible way.
We are carriers of hope. There is more than one way to deliver it. More than one way that He’ll remind us of why we are here. God isn’t limited by venue, language barriers, cultural differences, faith backgrounds or our sin when it comes to showing His endless love and transforming power to mankind.
It is not what we do for God, but what He does for us that changes everything.
Linking with Jennifer for Tell His Story.