This past weekend I had an interesting Saturday. It started off with a sweet, simple time of worship with a few young people at the beach, where our church met last Sunday for a sunrise service. It was a beautiful sunrise and an enjoyable way to begin the day. This past weekend our city hosted an annual Blues Festival. Musically, I cut my teeth playing the blues, so I look forward to this opportunity each year. But what a contrast of purpose.
At the Blues Festival, several bands played a diverse mix of blues music while people of all walks of life gathered to enjoy the music. Lots of beer is sold and drunk by people wearing questionable attire while gyrating to the music. It wasn't pretty. As a young friend of mine characterized it, "It was like a hippie-fest, the bad kind of hippie." But...that's what moved them—the blues music, the beer, and the fantasy of days long gone.
At the beach that morning, one person played a guitar and the rest of us sang along. As the morning moved forward, other people gathered at the beach for a myriad of reasons—fishing, walking, jogging, shell collecting, and so on. We connected with the Creator of the sunrise and the beach and with each other, as we shared thoughts of worship. That's what moved us. The same day, and nearly the same location, but world's apart in purpose.
A few decades ago, God moved in a powerful way among the young, disenchanted, and unchurched. About the same time, God also moved in another disenchanted group who were in churches. Both groups knew they were missing something in life, but didn't realize what it was till God began moving. The group in churches experienced an awakening by the Holy Spirit—then they were asked to leave their churches. The young people wanted nothing to do with church, yet became a part of a movement that spawned new churches. Along the way—God's way—these two groups met and America experienced somewhat of a revival called the Jesus Movement and the Charismatic Renewal.
Decades later, many who were part of these two movements, spurned by the established churches of the day—the religious establishment—became another form of religious establishment. There is a lot of denial that this is so, but, as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. So, what happened? How did what began as anti-establishment, or at the least non-conformist, become another form of established religion? A better question might be—Why? The simple answer to how the previous establishment became the establishment is—they got stuck in a rut.
It seems that what God begins in simplicity is often taken over by well-meaning believers and made complicated. Why? An earnest attempt to preserve and protect what was started sovereignly by God. Jesus faced the same dilemma, but ended up on the wrong end of things—from a human point of view. When people say they were unfairly treated they may use the expression, "They crucified me!" In Jesus' case that's what happened literally, hence the expression.
As Solomon said centuries ago, "There's nothing new under the sun" (Eccl 1:9). And yet, the unrelenting selfish nature of humanity drives people to search for something new—something that will move them—something that will inspire and bring contentment. Once it is found we want to hang on to it. But it is fleeting, it is momentary, and time moves forward. So, whatever it is cannot be fixed in time, even within each person. Unless...unless what moves us—inspires and satisfies—is eternal.
God alone is eternal. He is unchanging in His nature (Heb 6:17; 13:8). And yet, nothing in this world or our lives will remain unchanged or fixed. So the question—What moves you? Is it the world around you that's ever changing, or the Eternal One who brings real change—internally and for eternity?