Every year, our church sets aside time on Good Friday to remember Jesus’ sacrifice in our place.
It is a simple service with singing, Scripture and taking the Lord’s Supper. The whole service has a solemn aspect to it, a framework of careful remembrance. This year was no different. At the same time, this year was unique.
I was working in the sound booth, making sure the camcorder was focused and that the folks who were sharing were in the frame. I bounced back and forth between looking at the livestream and listening to the words being shared, meanwhile attempting to gather my thoughts in preparation to lead the congregation in observing the Lord’s Supper. The tornado of tasks distracted me from our sole purpose of remembering the Lord. I had lost sight of our goal amid the busyness of doing God’s work.
If you are like me, perhaps you do this, too. The battle to balance work and worship has been fought by God’s people for millennia. When left to our own devices, we miss the meaning that God intended us to live out. In God’s sight, work and worship are not distinct; they are interwoven. When we work in the sound booth, preach from the pulpit, greet at the door, cook in the kitchen or bounce crying babies in the nursery, it is all work and worship. It is all intended to point our hearts toward our Savior. And it is often in those times when we grow distracted in our work, simply doing it to check boxes or cross items off our lists, that we discover the true, unseen work that the Lord is doing amid our apparent busyness.
The service ended in prayer. I scooted back to my spot in the booth. With the final Amen, I began stopping recordings, muting microphones and breaking down the booth. Amid my yet reeling thoughts, my sister-in-law came over to the door of the sound booth. She whispered to me to look over to the corner. I saw my brother and his middle child sitting on a pew across the sanctuary. My nephew was weeping. You may want to go talk with him, she said.
I finished what I was doing and made my way across the back of the sanctuary to put my hands on my nephew’s shoulders. After a few moments, my brother left and let me sit down. I asked my nephew why he was crying. Through tears, he sputtered, I have never heard it like that before. In other words, the gospel of Jesus had just registered in his heart and mind.
The weight of that moment still hangs in my mind a week later. The simplicity of it all still captures me. There was no loud music or videos or smoke and lights. There was not even an altar call or several rounds of a responsive hymn. What cut to my nephew’s heart while I was busy in the sound booth? The Scriptures. While I was doing my best to do work for God, God was busy doing his own rescuing work in my nephew’s heart. There is much we can learn from this.
First, we must leverage our lives to proclaim the gospel of Jesus. Everything else has a place, but the Scriptures must be the center, the foundation of our lives and ministry. As Paul wrote to the Roman believers, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ,” (Romans 10:17, NIV). We must live the gospel and share the gospel. Second, we must trust that God is doing more in our lives than we see on the surface. In an hour, the Lord saved my nephew and brought me to repentance for allowing my work for Jesus to separate from my worship of Jesus. Third, we must learn to weave our work and our worship together for Jesus’ sake.
Friend, I do not know your story, but I know mine. Like my nephew, I was a broken sinner, separated from God. In his grace, God opened my heart to the gospel. You, too, need God to rescue you from your sin.
Years ago, while recovering from an illness, a man named Charles began to study the Scriptures. As he read, Charles was saved by grace through faith in Christ. In worship, Charles Wesley soon wrote the words of the hymn “And Can It Be?” May Christ also rescue you by grace through faith, and draw your heart to sing:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood!
Died he for me? who caused his pain!
For me? who him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
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