Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Jesus Showed Up This Sunday

Sunday, was a bit different this past week. Sure, we had our usual service with all the normal elements. Welcome, worship, prayer for the sick, announcements, offering, and of course that powerful word of God from that awesome preacher guy (or maybe I should say that powerful word of God despite that preacher guy.) So many times we have our services and we try and gauge whether or not Jesus showed up. In order to do that we use all types of variables to qualify the service as a bona-fide "Jesus showed up" church service. Was there intense worship? Were people's emotions stirred? Was the preacher truly "anointed" today? Were people's lives radically changed? Was the altar full? Did the service last till 2? Well, I don't think any were true of Westlake this week. I just wonder if God uses the same barometer? Somehow, I don't think He does.

Scripture tells us that when there are two or more walking in agreement and gathered together in His name there He is in the midst of them. I think sometimes as believers we are way too focused on the extravagant and elaborate as a place to find God's presence. And in doing so, we often miss Him in the simple and practical. Remember, Elijah didn't find Him in the loud and boisterous wind. He wasn't in the earthquake and He wasn't in the fire. No, God showed up in the plain and simple. No huge fanfare. No earthshaking event. Just a simple, still, small voice. In saying that, I'm not saying God doesn't show up in a grand, loud, emotionally charged environment. Just that he shows up, like His Word says, when two or more are in agreement and gathered in His name.

Using that as the barometer, I can say without a doubt, Jesus was at Westlake on Sunday. Following our normal service, we gathered together for lunch and the fellowship was great. It felt like a family. Kind of the way church should feel. It is awesome to see people connecting with one another and genuinely loving one another. But, our Sunday didn't end there. Following lunch, many of us headed to a widow's house to clean, paint, mow, and do whatever else she needed done around the house. I have served in churches my whole life and I can rarely remember an event or outreach that wasn't accompanied by complaining and bad attitudes. Now, perhaps there were some on Sunday, but I didn't see any. As a matter of fact the only complaints I heard were from those who were so eager to work, having trouble finding something to do once they had completed their tasks.

I saw a leader in the church take time to show two young boys how to paint. I saw single moms who no doubt have plenty going on in their lives, giving up several hours on their day off to help someone else. I saw people from every stage of life, single ladies, single men, married couples, families, children, teens all rolling up their sleeves and just doing whatever needed to be done. It was truly an awesome sight. As I sat back and took it all in, I couldn't help but see the resemblance of Jesus in each and every one.

Yep, Jesus showed up at Westlake Sunday, but it wasn't in all the hoopla. He was in the simple and practical. He was in the conversation I had with the catholic brother at lunch. He was in the young man who has only been to Westlake for three weeks, who helped me set up chairs for lunch. He was in the love one of our leaders showed to an unwed mother who just received a bad report from the doctors concerning her infant. And He was in the act of love we did for our widow.

Truth is, Jesus shows up every time we gather. Whether its Sunday morning, our home groups during the week, or our labors of love. Chances are you'll miss him though if you're only looking for him in the spectacular. The Pharisees missed him because he came in a way they didn't expect him to. Look in the simple and practical. As a matter of fact, look for him in the way you live and relate to others. You may have to make some changes to see him that way, but trust me, it is possible for Jesus to show up this Sunday because you walked into the place.

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