I’ve been a Christian and in full time ministry long enough to have become fascinated by a particular phenomenon I see in the lives of so many Christians and congregations. If you’ve been around us Christians, you’ve seen it too. Its the reality that for some strange reason, the older we get, the less passionate we seem to be about our love relationship with Jesus. Its as if unabashed hilarity is relegated only to the very young of age or very young of faith. If you’re older in your faith or just plain older, well then…simmer down.
I see Christians who have been walking with the Lord for a while glance knowingly at each other when they encounter a brand new, fired up, can’t stop smiling, toe-tapping, evangelizing, fresh-outta-the-box recipient of God’s grace. Its a glance that says, “They’ll learn. They’ll grow out of it. Let’s just love them through this giddy schoolgirl phase.” And all as if we should be wanting that zeal to die down so that those new babes in Christ don’t cause a scene and get all “crazy”. Or worse yet: make us look like we don’t really love Jesus enough.
And I’m not even just talking about one particular age group. I’ve seen teenagers in one context go absolutely nuts in a worship service; screaming, dancing, clapping, jumping, shouting, crying. And then when in another context those same teens are barely a notch above comatose, apparently without any fervor at all.
On a Sunday morning several months ago, one of our seniors in high school was helping to lead worship singing during one of our student services. As we sang a song that previously evoked a “conga line” while we were away on a mission trip earlier that month, she decided that she was going to start dancing laps around the room, in hopes that others would join in the celebration of the God we were singing to and about.
They didn’t. No one joined her. They all simply stared at her, giggled and glanced at each other as she circled the crowd several times before the end of the song.
But here’s the thing: to most students in the room it seemed awkward and embarassing to do something so undignified (even while singing David Crowder’s song “Undignified”!). But to her, it was an opportunity to express her passion for Christ and to invite others to do the same. The fact that no one did that morning had no bearing on her whatsoever. In fact, at the end of the song she took a moment and gave an impromptu explanation of King David’s attitude and how while people thought he should behave in a way a bit more fitting for a king, the king just wanted to dance and his feet would not be still.
So, why is it that when we are first introduced to Jesus and are ushered into the family of God there is elation, but the longer we stay in the family of God, there is deflation? Why are the most energized followers of Christ almost always the ones who just met Him and who know the least about Him? Why is it that our unashamed abandon gives way to unambitious apathy?
I believe there are lots of possible explanations (none of them really valid), but I’d like to throw one out there and call it our fascination with sophistication. Wherever we go, we like to look like we’ve got it together. And breaking free of decorum in any context is just…well…uncivilized. What would people think of us if while singing the words “When the world has seen the light, they will dance with joy like we’re dancing now…” and we actually DANCED? But there it is. There’s the problem. We’re wrapped up in our own view, and in others’ view of us and we’re dismissive of God’s view, God’s desire, God’s worthiness, God’s presence, God’s invitation, and God’s freedom.
We’re fickle followers. Our follow-through in following Him is often hinged on our mood. Its often an egocentric roller coaster built of the flimsiness of our current circumstance rather than on the fact that right now while you’re reading this, angels and creatures surround the throne of God and cry out to one another and to Him, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty! He was, He is, and He is to come!”
We’re pridefully forgetful. We walk further and further from the cross as we live our daily lives and consequently forget what happened there, what it means to humanity, and how it supposed to be changing us day by day.
But this isn’t about dancing, or shouting, or causing a scene. Its about Jesus. Everything is. God’s Word tells us that it is from Him all things have come and it is to Him all things will return. (Romans 11:36) Jesus Christ is the final word and will have the final say to this thing we call time and space. Deny it, scoff it, ignore it, dismiss it, or believe it. And if we believe it, then for cryin’ out loud let’s not just smile at the zealous, the newborn in Christ, the passionate, undignified followers of Jesus. Let’s return to that place. Let’s grow our love and surrender to Jesus Christ into a stupid, scene-causing, let-er-rip, dancefest of joy over our redemption and our Redeemer!
I’m stopping here, but let me leave you with what I think is a near-perfect marriage of yesterday’s hymnal theology and today’s outright silliness that ensues when we stop caring about what other humans think of how we love Jesus….Ladies and Gents, I give you “I Saw The Light!”