Normally, we have a time of worshiping God through song, interspersed with announcements, offering, and prayer, followed by the sermon.
Today began in said manner, with the worship team leading. We made it through the announcements and offering and we just finished a song when the pastor came up and excused himself - one of the church members needed to be rushed to the hospital. The evening pastor had volunteered to cover the sermon with what he'd planned for tonight.
That little difference sparked a massive change. One of the worship team members stepped up to lead the congregation in prayer for their ailing member. There was a change of tone in the congregation that was shown in the following songs - Before the Throne of God Above, and Cornerstone, songs which praise God ad the eternal authority and power, for the ability to bring our burdens and pleas before Him. Standing up on that stage, bass in hand, I felt a renewed vigour in the congregation as they worshiped. As the evening pastor stepped up to the pulpit, he asked if anyone would mind taking his place in the prayer room during the service, to which 5 different individuals came to serve in that capacity.
What was the change? What sparked this renewed fervour and energy in our congregation?
Honestly, I think it was simply urgency. Rather than merely coming to praise God and worship Him for themselves, the church was gathered together as one body and one mind, praying, praising, and worshiping God, crying out to Him with full and heavy hearts. It was as though the service had gained gravitas, a sense of the awe, majesty, and magnitude of God, and the humility of spirit stemming therefrom.
That started me thinking. What if we, the global church, treated worship with that sense of urgency on a regular basis. What if the church had the same urgent spirit about the souls of unsaved individuals? What if the church had the same urgency for others in their congregations or their communities who were in need?
This sense of urgency, sometimes seen in third world or persecuted churches, I have yet to see outside of this instance in those American churches I've been privileged to visit. Not that I'm denigrating these churches - many have outstanding teaching, fellowship, and discipleship. I just don't see that same weight present. I don't see the realisation of pressing need, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. I don't see that reverence and awe towards God, sparked by acknowledgement of God as sole Power and Benefactor. These are aspects of worship which are missing, aspects which defined the early church - moving in secrecy, under persecution, spreading a message of eternal life and hope for all people, and meeting the needs of the destitute, discarded, and helpless.
Brothers, sisters, I implore you to see the urgency of the Christian faith - possessing a message for the salvation of mankind and tasked with spreading said message for the duration of a time whose end we will not know. We are called not only to "make disciples of all nations", but to "serve the fatherless and the widows" as well and, for all we know, the deadline could be tomorrow!
So, let us not take lightly the burden of our calling. Let us not come to worship with cheap action and empty songs, but let us, as the body of the church, come together as one, moving, serving, and speaking as though tomorrow will never come.
Soli Deo gloria.