Jesus is refreshing. No other word captures the majesty of His character. Whenever and wherever Jesus visits life springs up. That life is not a response to His presence but the result of His presence. He is life-giving—reviving—uplifting—invigorating—revitalizing—and energizing—that’s what I mean by refreshing.
The most important person on our guest list for a Sunday morning worship experience had better be Jesus. You would think for most church people this would be a given, but it’s not. Too often we assume He will just show up—heck, it’s His party anyway, isn’t it? But in most places little if anything is really done to prepare for His presence. Oh, we prepare the musicians, the singers, the ushers, worship team, and the preacher with his sermonic offering. But the most important aspect of the service is often taken for granted. In all the fervor to prepare the perfect service Jesus is often left out. And… if He doesn’t show up, there’s no purpose in attending.
Preparation is vital. Excellence is essential. Both are necessary, but His presence is the defining imperative. It matters not how elaborate the can is to a hungry man if it contains no food. The food is the life, not the wrapper. We have become enamored with the wrapper and neglected the essence of the Life-giver. You either have Him or you have an empty container. We have become delusional over the finished product we are convinced we can produce with mood music, soft lighting, and homiletic finesse. The show is great, but…not refreshing—not life-giving.
In the hustle and the bustle of our planning, practice, preparation, and prayer times, we have forgotten the necessity of His presence. Nothing eternal or important really happens unless Jesus comes to visit. I’m not throwing rocks at a particular group or model, whether contemporary or traditional. A lack of invitation will insure His absence at both. I’m throwing rocks at all of us charged with making sure the Guest of honor is given first place at the party we say we are throwing for Him. That’s what worship really is anyway…isn’t it?
Some have done this through accident, some through ignorance, some through innovation, and some intentionally. The results, no matter the excuse or reason, are always the same—a lingering death. In fact, and this might make you mad, but when Jesus is uninvited and absent someone else fills His seat. The dark one loves to show up at empty worship services filled with personalities jockeying for the top positions—pushing and shoving for the limelight. Self may long to sit on the throne, but in this case Satan is hogging that seat.
Where has the church gone? Oh, she is staring at her pretty self in a delusional mirror humming “It’s All About Me…” Like the mythical Narcissus, she has fallen in love with her own image, not the image of the One she has been called to mirror.
The answer rests in that old picture that hangs in so many churches across this country. In it Jesus can be seen knocking on a door looking for an opportunity to enter. That door, according to Revelation 3:20, is not the one to your heart; it is the door to His church.
If we invite Him—He will come. When He comes He will bring His life with Him. So…what do you want—a well-crafted service devoid of Jesus or the Presence that refreshes? I don’t know about you, but those who are lost don’t need another jazzed up program; they need the presence of Jesus.