Important facts to know about me before reading this post:
1) I was raised in a southern Baptist church. While we would clap after solos, it was most definitely a controlled clap. An occasional “amen” could be heard during a rousing sermon. And I probably consumed my body weight in fried chicken and sweet tea during my teen years, but hand raising, shouting, and jumping up and down during worship….um…yeah, not so much.
2) I am an introvert and find large crowds rather overwhelming.
3) I really like my comfort zone and all things familiar.
With those facts in mind picture this scene:
Two good friends and I travel two and a half hours away from home to attend a Bethel Music worship night. (For those not familiar with Bethel, they are an amazingly talented group of worship leaders, singers and musicians who are not the least bit afraid to worship with full abandon.)
So after checking into our hotel, quickly changing into what we hoped resembled slightly trendy concert attire (and might I add boots with too high of a heal for my comfort!), we were off to the concert. After a chaotic start (can we please get rid of the general admission concept?!?!) we were thrilled when the music started to play.
However, it did not take long for me to realize that I was not in Baptist-land anymore! Arms outstretched, voices crying out to God, singers on their knees in complete worship and adoration of the One they were singing about. It was different. It was slightly uncomfortable. It was breathtakingly beautiful!
As the night wore on, and my feet wore out, I slipped off my boots. I mean when you can no longer feel your toes there is a problem with your footwear! At first I felt awkward taking my shoes off, but as the lyrics to No Longer Slaves flowed through the arena:
We’ve been liberated
From our bondage
We’re the sons and the daughters
Let us sing our freedom
You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
And I could stand and sing
I am a child of God…
It suddenly seemed very fitting to remove my shoes – for surely we were standing on sacred holy ground (even though the weekend before that same ground had held a horse show, and still had the lingering aroma of horse poo!)
My feet, now free from their painful confines, felt the vibrations of the music flowing from earth to heaven. My arms couldn’t help but reach out toward the One we were all there to worship. Tears welled up in my eyes with the weight of the moment. And goose bumps covered my arms as I surveyed the beautiful scene as thousands of worshippers sang out to God in one voice.
Worshippers not defined by denomination, age group, color, nationality, bank account or any other label. Just worshippers worshipping the risen Savior and King.
Standing on the second level in the arena gave me a clear view of those on the floor. But it was God who gave me a clear view of an eternal truth:
God does not see His children through the lens of our denomination or affiliation. God simply sees us as His children.
Jesus spent so much of His earthly time praying for and teaching unity. Surely there was a reason. A Savior sent to die so that His people could live, surely wanted those people to be more captivated with His gift than with their divisions.
After all, we will not have separate robes in Heaven. There will be no Baptist robe, no Methodist robe, no Pentecostal robe, nor any other earthly-labeled robe. The only Robe that will matter will be the one we could never deserve. The robe of the One who paid the price we never could. The robe that adorns grateful sinners. The robe that we exchanged our sinful rags for. The robe of the Savior. The blessed robe of grace and love upon which God the Father sees His Son’s reflection covering us and therefore grants us sonship with Him!
Standing outside of my comfort zone brought me true comfort like I’ve never known. And it granted me a glimpse of Heaven, where all will worship as One before The One. No divisions. No denominations. No discriminations.
And oh what a beautiful day that will be!
Here’s a song by Bethel that I just can’t get enough of this week: