Jonathan Edwards, the most significant American churchman of the 18th century once said, “If we are going to be excited about anything shouldn’t it be our spiritual lives? Is there anything more inspiring more exciting in heaven or on earth than the Gospel of Jesus Christ? We should be humbled that we are not more emotionally affected than we are.”
Emotionally affected by the scandal of the Gospel. Emotionally affected by its redemptive rescue for worldly wretches. Emotionally affected by His saving power not because of what we do but because of what He has already done, (see Titus 3:4).
A couple of weeks ago I, and seventeen others from my church, board an airplane to a small village in Peru, South America. I recite the Gospel in my sleep. I roll it over in my mind. I can’t wait to engage people. I am living sent. The anticipation sprouts radical excitement down deep. The laughs, the tears, the mama guilt, the prayers…all usher me into this moment of praise and adoration and anticipation of proclaiming the Gospel “to the nations…”
One of my greatest joys on my first international mission trip is our time of corporate worship with the local church. The church in Chorrillos, Peru isn’t a big, beautiful building with stain glass windows and wooden pews. The church is a modest second story room with concrete floors and plastic chairs. This place reminds me of the “upper room,” as described in Acts 1:13-14. 13 “When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. ….. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer…” We climb narrow stairs and pile into the upper room. We squeeze in a circle and prepare our hearts. The Pastor tunes guitar strings as if to tune his spirit for the worship that is about to begin. We sing “Open the Eyes of My Heart,” in two languages. He sings with intense passion in a language I cannot understand. He is simply being with Jesus and I can feel God’s presence here more strongly than I have in a while. All my senses are full of His greatness. God’s glory has fallen down into this place like rain and is soaking us from the inside out. I raise my arms like a child as if to grab His hem and cry, “Jesus, I don’t ever want to be dry.”
The Pastor. Those sitting in the upper room ~ like Edwards says are simultaneously emotionally affected and humbled by the One who “meeked” and shamed Himself in our place. I am blown away by the greatness of our Lord, by the fact that God in all His mighty plans had cared enough for this Pastor, had cared enough for us, to put us together in this moment of praise.
While melodies continue to explode into the rafters, my mind wanders into the throne room. I imagine the etiquette of worship there. I imagine the strange, beautiful creatures with wings and eyes all over. I imagine they put down their wings as they drop quietly by the throne in reverent exaltation of the Lamb. I imagine shouts, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts,” as incense hovers and pillars shake (see Ezekiel 1:1-28; Isaiah 6). Every living thing is engaged in worship as they focus on the person of Christ. This is the same God I sing to in this moment. The inevitable goose-bumps rise and I wonder what heaven thinks about our worship?
As music fades into muted tone, we breathe a word “Amen.” I lift my head and open my eyes and I am humbled by how emotionally affected I am.