“Never look down on anyone, only God sit’s that high…” Anonymous
Music is his language… a universal terminology which softens the borders of race, creed, religion or politics. It is who he is, and I daresay, one of the things I like most about him. He tends to see life through the lens of its melody.
As an invited guest musician this morning at a scrappy little southern church, Eli gave his best to a room full of virtual strangers. He played his guitar, sang a few peaceful songs and shared his spiritual gift. With worship over, he quietly left the platform and joined the congregation. Though he was invited, he respectfully refused the elements of the Eucharist. It was a personal choice…
A few minutes later the sermon on “Judging” ended. A woman, let’s just call her “The Church Lady,” accosted Eli in the aisles. “Why didn’t you take Communion?” she demanded. Taken aback, he was not even sure what to say. He just answered her directly. “Because I am Jewish!” he said.
The Church Lady’s face registered her shock and with all the sanctimonious piety she could summon she retorted, “You shouldn’t be here then!”
And so he left. ‘Twas the kiss of death…
When my dear, Jesus – loving friend called me in sobs about her husband today, I became furious, hurt for her and full of venom. “That stupid woman! She has NO idea what kind of damage she has caused,” I thought. I was ready to add a few blistering words to my darkest thoughts…
But God. He stopped me. I didn’t say my thoughts. Surely they would only add to the conflagration. Instead I sent a silent prayer. “God, tell me – what can I say, what shall I do for her, for him? You tell me. Please…”
And so He did. I listened. She ranted…and cried and questioned.
Sweet sister, let’s take this apart. First, I want to remind you about a few things. This careless, thoughtless act of another breaks God’s heart even more. This is not of Him. This is not the heart or the character of Jesus. Lest we forget – He is a Jew! God desires his Body (his Church) to be whole – and we profligates are always breaking off parts – stepping out, (away from Him), stepping on (someone else) and stepping in mud (getting the very hands and feet of Christ filthy with our choices). It’s what we do – we are sinners. Which is why we need Jesus so much.
On the evening before Jesus’ crucification he gathered his 12 disciples together and asked them to prepare the Passover meal. Note, he invited 12 – not 11. At the dinner, he advised them that one of them would betray Him….yet even so – all 12 partook in the elements of the supper; all given a choice. He gave them bread, to symbolize His body – the life that would be given, broken and crushed (for our sin) not His. He told the disciples to eat it, consume it, digest it – let it become part of them. Because if He does not live in us, then we live APART from Him.
He then gave them the cup to drink; wine that symbolizes the blood of life; His life that ran red and spilled across the streets of Jerusalem – so that our sins would be bleached white. Jesus told him they must drink His “blood” or there could be no life. No life with Him. In Him. Of him.
And with this Jesus said, “Do this in Remembrance of Me”...sigh.
And still, this amazing sacrament, this holy offering was also given to Judas. The traitor. The selfish. The jealous. The soul-sick one. Within hours of supping with Jesus, all 12 disciples returned to the calling of their flesh; suspicious of each other, jealous of favouritism, self-centered fear for their own safety, denial of their Messiah. Have you ever thought that the 12 disciples each exhibit one or more human characteristics of the entire human race? Another sigh. Oh God, how we must disappoint you.
Jesus came to heal the sick. The sick of mind, the sick of spirit, the sick of body. Those sick with pride, those ill with sanctimonious piety. Those of us who are sick of each other. Those of us who are sick of ourselves. When we are not full of the source of life, Jesus Christ, we are all sick. Dead sick and thus all of us can be the Judas’ in the room.
God knew what Judas was up to and yet He allowed it to fulfill His purpose in His Son – our redemption. God knew what the Church Lady was up to as well, and yet allowed it. Why?
Because He is Sovereign. Because He will redeem it. Because though Eli was offended, insulted and unappreciated today, the very fact that he was there, in that church, playing worship music along side a Christ-loving fellow musician and friend is a miracle in itself. You see God speaks to our hearts in language we alone understand. For Eli, that is music. God’s music. God’s language too…and in that, Eli heard the word of God preached today. Words that He promises will not return void. Words that will plant seeds, and ideals that God promises He will complete – in Eli…and in us all.
I am convinced the Church Lady was wrong and unfortunately used as an unholy instrument to throw shade on the husband of my friend. She likely doesn’t even realize her impact. Which is why I have prayed for her and reminded my friend to do the same. I am praying for Eli too, for a hungry heart that will seek His truth, and a soft and forgiving spirit – so that God’s music won’t stop – in him.
So dear ones, in this I am reminded – may we be instruments of God’s music to others. We are to love in biblical truth and grace, not condemnation. We must be very vigilant, particularly in a world that desires to divide and destroy the presence of Christ. We must not play right into the evil one’s hands. Our God is a good God. He tarries for a purpose – so that all will come to trust in His Son and not be lost. While we are still present we must use our time wisely, to LIVE the Gospel to this world – and if all else fails, use His music too. 😉
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12
“All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing … When the peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD. Psalm 86
Amen and amen.