As a musician – as one trained in entertainment, I am indoctrinated that whatever happens, “The show must go on”. This is what it is to be professional.
As God gave me this word before church this morning, I struggled against my tendency to cynicism which this fed. Don’t worry our church passed the test as I contemplated various perspectives on this word.
So often we fall into the trap of expectations that the show must go on. No matter how we feel, whatever’s going on, we should put on our mask and soldier on. Actually there is a place for this:
Leviticus 21:10 The priest … must never mourn by leaving his hair uncombed or by tearing his clothes.
However after centuries of priestly corruption culminating this being a bought political position, Jesus sharply reprimanded the Pharisees of his day, calling them by the Greek word for actor: Hypocrites:
Jesus launches a tirade in Matthew 23:
13 How horrible it will be for you, experts in Moses’ Teachings and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You don’t enter it yourselves, and you don’t permit others to enter when they try
We can learn a lesson from my wonderful heritage. In the Salvation Army’s early days, they’d do awesome concerts to engage an audience to preach to. God worked miracles through them, even as they endured physical attacks. Four generations later, worship services retained this format, but without the unchurched audience from the community. Us youth cynically asked “Is God working in the Salvation Army or in spite of the Salvation Army?” Fortunately, the Salvation Army has rediscovered its roots, but only after losing my generation to blessed the wider church with a generation of master musicians.
Modern church worship is lively, engaging an audience with a presentation embracing the modern entertainment industry – just as the Salvation Army did back then when they reworded popular drinking songs. We must remain vigilant against the drive that the show must go on – that it doesn’t get to the point where we say
“How dare God interrupt my worship!”
As I reflect on this, I must use a mirror. Am I just putting on a show? Am I just doing the done thing? Am I covering up my shortcomings with a pious façade?
God is speaking to me in this area. A few weeks ago, I felt God wanting to minister to me as I was leading worship, but I couldn’t stop. Really, I could have. I should have stopped and gathered the guys around me, just as I encompass them every week in a Godly atmosphere. It was an environment where that was OK, but I was too busy being professional. God, forgive my professionality.
The show must not go on. Ministers must seek God each time: “God, how do you want me to fight this spiritual battle?” If we’re doing the same thing each time, we’re doing the show; and we’re gunna get beat up real good. If we’re neglecting our heritage, we’re also doing the show and just trying to be cool. God wants a people who will worship him “in Spirit and in Truth” – not a bunch of professional actors. We must let God interrupt our ministry. I am forever deeply impressed by one pastor’s habit of leaving the sermon he’d spend the week preparing, because God had turned up. His response: “I can just present that next week”. Lol – so simple, yet so profound. That reminds me of Hezekiah’s extensive preparations in 2 Chronicles 32 for the Assyrian invasion, after which God just wiped them out. What use was all that hard work? However it was the right thing to do. But we shouldn’t get upset when God turns up to do his thing during our worship.
The show must not go on.
Blessings and Shalom.