I don’t know how many of you, if any, can relate to what I’m about to tell you, but I’m sure that at least one or two, may have gone through a like experience, sometime throughout their Christian walk with Our Lord. If not then count yourself fortunate.
Before I became a true Christian, I went through several years as what I refer to now as a pretending Christian or a robot Christian. I was going through the motions, but I was not really walking the walk or talking the talk, I was merely attending church and like I said going through the motions, trying to fool myself as well as others, that I really felt something and believed.
I would enter church, glance up at the crucified Jesus, The Christ, hanging there on the cross, and never give it a second thought. I never even saw the building I was in as a place of worship.
I saw it as just another building where like-minded people, worshippers would gather together, and I as a choir singer, I was their entertainment for the morning. Even the service, except for when I was singing, had little importance for me, as a matter of fact, when the pastor would give his sermon to the rest of the congegation, it was time for me to have a smoke break.
My heart, my soul my spirit, was not truly experiencing the true significance of what I was seeing. Even though I was a lead tenor in the choir, it was the music I loved singing, but the words had no significance. As a semi-professional singer/musician, I was able to breath life into the notes being sung, but paid very little attention to the words being sung or what they actually expressed in thought. It was almost like I was a zombie or a robot. That was about it for me until about fifteen years ago when things began to change with me and my "Walk with My Lord Jesus" began in earnest.
Suddenly, as we were preparing the music for Easter week, we lost our music director/conductor and Vincent, our organist stepped up and took control over the choir. Vincent we quiclky learned was the Associate director for the Toronto Phil-harmonic Orchestra, as well as being the Director of the Phil-harmonic Choir, and he had a totally different and more educational approach to teaching us the music.
In his first session with us, Vince stood us infront of the altar facing the cross and began to one by one ask each member to look at the cross with Jesus hanging there, and express what we saw and what emotions if any we felt.
After going through the twenty or so sopranos and twenty or so altos, he came to me, his lead tenor. I looked up and I told him I saw Jesus hanging on a cross. Then Vince asked me what I felt, as I looked at it, and the first word out of my mouth was "Nothing".
Suddenly the whole choir let out a deep sighing gasp, of astonishment. Vince asked me again, You feel nothing? I told him I’d never given much real thought, as to what I was really looking at. Again a gasp came out of my fellow choir members, not really knowing what to make of me or my comments. We’d been singing together for about 10 years now and they never knew my true thoughts or feelings, as it never came up in conversation before now.
Vince asked me to look again at the cross, so I did. Then he said, think of the lyrics of the song we’re learning, which was a peice out of Handel’s Messiah dealing with the crucifixion. Then Vince asked me if I could feel the anguish, the torment, the pain, and suffering expressed in the music, I quickly answered yes, then he asked me again, look at Jesus hanging there on the cross, now take the feelings in the music that you feel, and see if you can apply those same feelings to what you are looking at. Suddenly tears began running down my cheeks, as my eyes began to see, the feelings, my spirit could feel from the music. It was truly amazing.
Yes it took being embarrassed infront of my peers to finally open my eyes, and acutally see with my heart and spirit, Jesus, The Christ, My Saviour and Redeemer hanging there on that cross, to be able to feel my true shame, for Him having sacrificed Himself, by being accused of sins the Son of God could never ever commit, to through my spirit, feel each painful lash His body experienced, to feel Him struggle and fall not once but three times, as He slowly painfully dragged his aching body up that hill, to feel the swing of the soldier’s hammer again and again striking those spikes, driving them into His flesh, nailing Him to that rugged old cross.
That was my first of several wake up calls by God’s Holy Spirit. It showed me that if I was going to call myself a Christian, I’d better do more than just showup for church on Sunday.
My next eye opener, came from one of the parishioners, after we had sung the Easter Sunday service that I mentioned earlier we were preparing for. This parishioner, Peter, had been one of the newly baptized, during Easter, and he approached me to comment on how he’d noticed the enthusiasm I put into my singing, and how much he had enjoyed hearing my voice ring out on a specific song he liked. He said that I had ministered to him in such a way, through my enthusiasm that He had to tell me, and that, my enthusiasm had drawn him to experiencing such a joy.
I thanked him, and it got me to thinking. I’d never thought of my singing, as serving God, let alone ministering to anyone. I simply love to sing. I started seeing my singing as a Music Ministry, serving God to draw others to Him for His glory and somehow that gave an importance to what I did and do.
A few years later, my wife with a few of her friends, started this Divine Mercy Prayer Group. They would meet every Saturday evening, to pray together and praise God, with song and scripture. One cold Saturday in December, ten years ago, my wife asked me to join the group on the pretext that it was for a dinner outing, so I agreed. For me, food is always a good magnet to draw me into anything. After dinner we all gathered around praying, singing, and even had a bible study. Next thing I know, I’m looking forward to being with the group every Saturday. Jesus bacame my real food, filling me.
The following spring, the group held a "Life in the Holy Spirit Seminar Retreat, and of course I was invited to attend. During that Seminar, Saturday evening, at a special Holy Spirit Service, The Holy Spirit entered me filling me to overflowing with God’s Gifts of the Spirit. This is when I became fully involved with evangelization and began writing and speaking as well as my singing to glorify God Almighty.
Finally last year, I got the idea that I could probably reach a whole lot more people for the Lord and for God if I used the internet and started writing so that lots of others could get God’s message about His Word and the Gospel. That’s when I began seriously evangelizing for God using the Internet, which brings me to the here and now.
Now When I look at a crucifix I now can feel the anguish as the crowd and the criminal at his side mocked him. I can hear Him pleading with Our Father God to forgive all of those whose sins were being heaped upon Him, and His last spoken words, "It is done." as he surrendered to death, in order to ultimately defeat it.
When you look at the cross, if you see only a cross, and feel nothing for the person hanging on it, feel his suffering, his shame, and pain, if you do not feel his anguish and rejection by God for receiving your sins, then maybe it is time for a wakeup call for you. This is a big part of Christianity, that and our accepting Jesus as our redeemer and savior through his crucifixion and resurrection. Almighty God, through His Only Son provided this sacrifice for us lowly human sinners.
The Apostle Peter reminds us: 1 PETER: 4: 13 "But rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."