READ: Nehemiah 7-8
THINK: Yesterday I watched my favorite football team, the Chicago Bears, choke away a winnable game in the final moments which cost them the chance to go to the playoffs and handed the division championship to the hateable Green Bay Packers. It wasn’t my happiest moment. But thankfully I know a ton of Packers fans and I was able to see – via the shots on TV of rejoicing fans in the putrid green and yellow, and to hear – via 3 phone calls, somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 texts, and approximately 14,000 Facebook posts – the rejoicing of the fans whose team had won. They were going nuts. And so were a lot of other NFL fan bases yesterday.
Then I read Nehemiah 7-8. Specifically the part about the joy of the Lord being our strength. And the crazy rejoicing and partying the people did because of the joy they had in the Lord. And then I thought about Sundays in America. And it occurred to me that so many of us – even those of us who are in church every Sunday and love God – rejoice far more extravagantly in the afternoon when our favorite teams score touchdowns than we do when we gather together with other believers to worship the God of the universe.
Something is backward in that equation! We get together and sing songs about dancing for the Lord…while standing still in in front of our seats. We sing about raising our arms or hands in worship while keeping them in firmly planted in our pockets. And then we go home, eat lunch, and jump up and down like crazy people while yelling at the little men on our TV screens.
Here’s the thing: this isn’t about hypocrisy. And the point isn’t to make us feel guilty. The people were feeling that way in Nehemiah and God instructed them to stop weeping and rejoice! The early church took this so seriously and got so fired up about God that they were often accused of being rip-roaring drunk when they met together. They were just pumped about Jesus. Why? Cause Jesus is worth getting pumped about!
What would it look like if we got completely and totally and ridiculously crazy pumped up about Jesus and we celebrated him with all that we had in us? It’s just possible that it would change our lives and our perspectives. It’s just possible that “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”
PRAY: Just worship God today! And try this: thank him for everything. The best stuff that you’d always thank him for. And the terrible stuff like stubbing your toe (and then maybe tripping up the stairs and slamming your knee into the stairs and jamming your fingers and then turning around and slamming your head into the low ceiling at the bottom of the staircase) that you’d normally be mad about. Find joy in him today!