Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are You an Extravagant Worshiper?

Dear Friends,

Some people complain that the problem with us Evangelicals is that we're just too expressive with our love for Jesus. They ridicule us for always talking about Him. They make fun of us when we tell them that Jesus is the answer to life’s difficulties. The problem, of course, is with those believers who are so filled with God that they are in danger of having Him burst out at any moment. Those are the extravagant worshipers.

She and I like jazz music – the smooth jazz sound. We will never forget that jazz concert years ago at the Pasadena City College in celebration of Black History Month. The top smooth jazz recording artists - our favorites - were there. Kurt Whalum, David Beniot, Jonathan Butler among others. The auditorium seats 1,500 on the main floor and it was packed. This was a fundraiser and the crowd was well-dressed, professional, educated, older and black. She and I were two of only six white people at the concert. The music was awesome. These guys played all their smooth jazz hits for the first hour. But, then something completely unexpected happened. 

This was a secular fund-raising concert, sponsored by a secular jazz radio station being held in an extremely liberal and politically-correct college. This smooth jazz concert should have gone smoothly. It didn't. The problem was that all these top jazz musicians happened to be Christians. And halfway through Jonathan Butler's set, he just started to sing a simple song that Kurt Whalum had written called FALLING IN LOVE WITH JESUS. Suddenly in the middle of that secular jazz concert, the Holy Spirit swept through the auditorium.

The crowd had been sleepily nodding their heads to the smooth jazz sounds, but in an instant, the atmosphere changed as if an electric current had passed though the audience. They spontaneously jumped to their feet with hands shooting in the air. Jonathan Butler gave a brief testimony and did an impromptu Gospel song. This was no longer a jazz concert. It was church. People were praising God and shouting “Amen” and “Glory!” 

The master of ceremonies (the jazz radio station personality) was off to the side talking to a college official. They were upset, frowning and shaking their heads. The reason for their dismay was apparent. When your secular concert falls apart and God shows up in the auditorium of your politically-correct, worldly, city college, how do you tell Him to go away?

It was clear that none of this was rehearsed and it was Holy Spirit driven. These guys took a risk and showed their own extravagant love for Jesus to a large audience of their fans; most of whom would not have known that these top jazz musicians are all Christians. Along with the college officials, there were a few people glaring in disapproval at the rest of us on our feet praising Jesus. I can certainly understand why an atheist would have felt disoriented that night. It was the most exuberant, extravagant, spontaneous explosion of worship I have ever experienced.

We read in John 12:3 where Mary spontaneously showed her unrestrained love for Jesus by anointing Him with costly perfume. She was immediately rebuked for her extravagant worship by one of the disciples. (John 12:4-6) And we must ask ourselves: are we showing our extravagant love for Jesus in our praise and worship like Mary? Or are we like Judas and criticizing others for being too loud, too emotional, too free, too extravagant? 

In our day-to-day life, do we play it safe or do we take risks? Would you feel comfortable singing FALLING IN LOVE WITH JESUS at the family Thanksgiving dinner in front of your atheist uncle? Would you feel comfortable telling the retail clerk that you will pray for her? Would you pray over your food in a restaurant at the risk that the politically-correct diners at the next table would disapprove? Would you risk telling a friend how your personal relationship with Jesus has changed your life? If you had been at that jazz concert, would you have leapt to your feet with your hands raised high in unrestrained praise to God or looked around in embarrassment at the extravagant worship taking place?
When Mary was rebuked for anointing the feet of Jesus, He told His disciples, “Leave her alone, she's doing a good thing here..” (John 12:7) Jesus approved of Mary's risky, extravagant, over-the-top worship. He approves of yours too. Amen?

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by Kirk Whalum

Falling in love with Jesus,
Falling in love with Jesus,
Falling in love with Jesus,
Was the best thing that I ever done.

In His arms I feel protected,
In His arms I'm not neglected,
In His arms I feel protected,
There's no place that I'd rather be.

Hear Jonathan Butler sing Falling In Love With Jesus

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