This blog represents the thoughts of the author. While they may reflect the theological position of The Renewal Fellowship, they should not be seen as an official statement.
It was the first time in more than three months that I’d been in a sanctuary with other people on a Sunday morning. I was filled with unspeakable joy. I sat in the first available row and was swaying with the music, hands raised, grinning like a crazy man. It felt good. For the first time in many months, I let down my defences and didn’t care what everyone else behind me might have thought.
Maybe it was just cathartic emotion and the release of pent-up frustration, which makes sense when I consider that it was at the end of the longest time that I’d been away from in-person worship in two decades.
Maybe it was the tone of the music, led from the heart by Rev. Jon Van Den Berg, whose face also radiated joy.
Maybe it was the setting. The sanctuary at Mt. Zion Presbyterian Church in Ridgetown, Ontario, was designed a century ago to allow light to beam with radiance from its stained glass. If a physical space could witness God’s glory, this was it.
Maybe it was the reality that this was the first time that I’d been an active participant in worship, rather than a leader, in more than six months.
Maybe it was all of these things working together which allowed my staid defenses to come down and allow the Holy Spirit to work all things together to the glory of God.
And then the same Spirit hit me with these words, which flashed in my head: “They don’t know what they’re missing.”
It was revelation. It hung in my head like a huge banner over Main Street. It was a clear communication which packed a myriad of truth.
“They” are the ones who don’t know the Lord. They’ve never heard the witness. Or maybe they have, and the seeds were sown, but they were choked out by the worries and concerns of this world and never found the fertile soil in which they could take proper root and thrive.
“They” are also the ones who claim to know the Lord – and perhaps do – but they don’t know how to feel the joy. “They” are the “frozen chosen.”
“They don’t know what they’re missing” wasn’t just a conclusion. It was a statement, a challenge, an invitation. And a call to battle.
How do we get the hard hearts of the unsaved to let down their defenses for the nanosecond that it would take for the love of the Lord to pierce their hearts, spark a joy, and unleash an irresistible urge to know Him?
It’s a question that all true believers wonder from time to time. Some spend a lot of time scheming what it would take to usher others into a front row seat to God’s glory so that they can experience it for themselves. And not just in worship, but in everyday life, because the church is God’s people in a fallen world and not just a collection of nice people in a mysterious sanctuary for an hour every week.
“Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe,” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:4. “They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand the message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”
It’s not only the minds of unbelievers which are blind. Even those who claim to believe are hampered to some degree. It’s part of the human condition, and it’s why we need Christ to wash our sins and make us right. So, even the deepest believer has some degree of doubt.
But too many believers have given in to the god of this world. For whatever reason – and there are many – they hide their joy. We fear being labeled as crazy. We allow the lies of the enemy to go unchallenged. We fail to take the opportunities to proclaim the hope that we have. Doubt, a lack of faith, and the absence of submission are cancers upon the church.
The church needs to get its act together.
To begin, let’s stop pointing fingers at the powerful forces which have diverted our attention from Christ. Instead, let’s look in the mirror. If Christ has given us hope, let’s show it on our faces and in our decisions, words, and actions. Let’s make conscious and conspicuous efforts to live disciplined lives in submission to the Holy Spirit and turn from all physical desires which don’t lead to life.
As we slowly re-enter our buildings, let us do so with holy anticipation as to what God’s Holy Hands can do if we allow them to work.