I love the band Casting Crowns. When I first heard them I was a fan, but not a huge fan. I preferred praise music and while the Crowns sing a lot of praise music, they also hit me hard with challenging song lyrics I wasn’t really ready for at the time. My wife got us to a live Crowns concert in 2008 and my impression of the band changed forever. The concert inspired me. The other people at the concert inspired me. The members of the band inspired me. Most importantly, the songs started speaking to me. Loudly. So loudly, in fact, I cried for a few miles as I drove away from the arena. I’ve seen them twice since then and each time the worship service is equally as compelling. I raise my hands. I sing like I never sing in any other venue. My spirits go to another world!
I write this because the words lead singer Mark Hall and the band write have been a wonderful supplement to scripture in my new-found conviction.
This conviction pretty much overwhelmed my life in the summer of 2011 while I was driving to formations for a Walk to Emmaus. I was supposed to give a witness talk and considering what I would say when the song “What This World Needs” by Casting Crowns came over my CD player. God always has perfect timing, remember that! In the song is the line, “What this world needs is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance. Blending in so well that people can’t see the difference and it’s the difference that sets the world free.” Based on that single line, I began jotting down notes for the witness talk in the parking lot. I committed myself to stop blending in so well and showing the world “The Difference” that sets every single one of us free! I mean, could anyone really pick me out as the lone Christian in the crowd? Has anything I’ve done in the name of the Holy Spirit set anyone free the chains that bond them?
It turns out that the Lord took my tongue in a different direction for the talk that night but he didn’t let me heart off the hook. 1 Corinthians 12:27 reads, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” I’ve heard that scripture my entire life but I’ve never taken it seriously and I don’t know if I do as of yet. I mean, really think about that. Jesus descended to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell in us. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we give control of our bodies to the Holy Spirit. He needs hands and feet. He needs eyes and ears. He needs a voice. He needs us to accomplish God’s work in this world. My heart really isn’t worthy, but is my outward appearance “what this world needs?”
My church where the Emmaus formations were is about a 35 minute drive from home and anytime God has me alone in a car, he chips away me. On this particular night, that 35-minute drive was an intense roller coaster of emotions. On the way home from those formations that night another Casting Crowns song from another CD, “If We Are the Body” played on my player and it drove me to sobbing. I told you the Crowns were one of those artists who really, really moves me. There are lyrics in that song that drive a stake through my heart: “If we are the body, why aren’t his arms reaching? Why aren’t his hands healing?…Why is his love not showing them there is a way?”
There is a way! So, just why aren’t my arms reaching? Why aren’t my hands healing? Why aren’t I showing anyone The Way? As I write all this, I might as well be looking in a mirror. Why aren’t I? God didn’t save me from hell to sit on the sidelines and watch others parade away to eternal damnation. He saved me to “(fight) the good fight…(finish) the race…keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7 present tense paraphrased by me). Have I done any of this to my fullest? Not even close. My fight has been uninspiring. I’m finishing last in the race. I’m keeping the faith to myself and not sharing it.
I fear hell has been populated more than Heaven by my actions.