I shot up out of my sleep from a deep slumber. You know, the kind where you wake up and freak out because you’re not exactly sure where you are. After a few seconds reality comes to you and then you realize, “oh, I am in my room.” But what awoke me has been an image that has led me in much of my ministry over the last 10 years…a picture.
Concerts have always been my weakness. In fact, my wife and I just finished paying off all of our debt. I am embarrassed to say that much of that debt was mine…mostly from trips I took to live out a life long dream of visiting most of the major league ballparks and then from the many concerts I’ve gone to great lengths to attend. Ask me about a band and it is highly likely that I’ve seen them perform live. In fact, it is easier – and would take less time – to tell you who I’ve not seen perform then those that I have. But here is the thing; what always drove me to a concert or a ballgame, what always kept me going, and to this very day is the reason I will still go to a concert or ballgame, is the essence of community that happens in brief but spectacular moments while you are there. It’s when all the hands in a stadium are raised in unison and a cheer has fallen over the place. It’s in those moments that something happens, something holy, something divine. For a moment in time 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 or even 50,000 people are united…making a unanimous roar! That was the vision I had that night when I awoke. But it wasn’t for a team, or a band, it was a body of people who were united in cause, devotion, and love because of one person, Jesus Christ.
We live in a culture that celebrates the self. Endless consumption of goods and services, obsession with others that are overly narcissistic, and sex without any bounds are some of the many symptoms. Plus, you have to add the fact that we now live in a society where we are endlessly critiqued and what others think only amplifies and propels this continuing epidemic. But this dream, or vision, or thing, whatever you want to call it, spoke to something different. It spoke of community. It spoke of change.
One of the most beautiful things about any great concert or ballgame is the fact that for brief moments you are brought together with people from different backgrounds and beliefs. There are those moments, those special moments, where you are one with everyone there…and you know it! Differences fall away for a short time and you just focus on being there.
I love what the theologian Karl Barth wrote:
“We return to our main thesis that the Christian is a witness, a witness of the living Jesus Christ as the Word of God and therefore a witness to the whole world and to all men of the divine act of grace which has taken place for all men. Thus in what makes him a Christian the first concern is not with his own person. He is referred, not to himself, but to God who points him to his neighbor, and to his neighbor who points him to God. He does not look into himself, but in the most pregnant sense outwards; i.e., to the fact that Jesus lives, rules and conquers, and to all that this fact includes. In the measure that he is engrossed in himself, rotating about himself and seeking to assert and develop himself, he alienates himself from what makes him a Christian. And in the same measure he curiously hazards and forfeits the very thing which does in fact personally accrue to him as a Christian, as a witness referred to God and his neighbor.”
My hope with this blog is that as I devote time to writing and sharing my thoughts on culture, sex, and Christ it will in some small way bring about moments that cause us to drop our differences and point towards the ONE that brings true life and gives us opportunities to discover…a unanimous roar!