loving one another
Last Sunday night, I attended Bethel Music’s Worship Night. It was incredible. Sundays can be long days, but to end it with Celia and friends at this event was sweet. Most encouraging for me was to see thousands of believers passionately engaged in worship. People were standing, sitting, kneeling, and free in their worship. Their intensity was attractive. It filled my soul with joy, and hope.
Since, I’ve thought about why I was encouraged. The crowd wanted more of God. They set aside time and paid money to be there. It was great to see the Church, in Austin, is filled with these people. They were passionate about being in presence of God and worshipping Him. I felt like I saw them pour themselves out in worship, and God fill them up. I got a glimpse of His Bride, and she’s beautiful.
I wonder why we don’t experience His Presence like this every week? Yes, Bethel Music is really good, but Bethel isn’t what encouraged me Sunday night. God did; and He did it through my brothers and sisters. To be in the presence of other believers, filled with Christ and desiring more, is to be in His Presence. There is a ministry in us showing up, ready to worship.
Something in our individualistic nature causes these moments to be far too rare. We admire the Marlboro man, alone with his thoughts, out on the wide-open range. And when someone tells us they’re not really in to church because they prefer their time alone with God, we’re inclined to admire them, like they’re the most interesting man alive. Couldn’t resist the XX reference.
Flying in the face of all our rugged individuality is a call to be a part of the Church in Scripture. Simply put, we’re called to be together.
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35
“This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. ... And this is His commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” 1 John 3:11, 23
“I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.” 2 John 1:5
“This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.” John 15:12-13
We cannot love one another, or lay our lives down for our friends, if we’re not together. The love, joy, life, hope and encouragement we receive from being together is greater than anything we find our own.
Our desire for time alone is good. Yet, in our busy lives, finding time to be alone, be at work, be family people and be invested in the lives of others feels impossible. The answer is likely to cost something from this life. Jesus cautioned us, following Him requires giving up our lives.
“If any of you wants to be my follower, “ He told them, “you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life.” Mark 8:34-35
It required time and money for my brothers and sisters to be at Bethel Music on Sunday. I bet no one there regretted giving up their Sunday evening. And their presence spoke to me.
We are the Church, the Bride of Christ. God has placed all things, things in heaven and on earth, under the authority of Christ, for our benefit. We get to be a part of His reaching and reconciling the world to Himself. Sunday night reminded me how sweet it is to be a part of His Bride. Yes, following Him requires more, but the reward in this life is greater than chasing what we cannot catch or hold eternally.