(Read before listening) I've been encountering and reading of people who talk of being a follower of Jesus. And I've encountered many in only the last few days who are facing major life struggles. From the deformed beggar outside the shop to a friend whose wife has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Does being a follower make any difference?
Hmm ... OK. Well I am a follower, so why do I feel that for many, being a follower is not much comfort?
God is a lover looking for a lover. If that's true, how can I only be a follower? Am I ONLY a follower? That's not enough for me.
There is something missing from our westernized clinical faith: the messy intimacy of a relationship that is true and trustworthy. When all around us, our lives, our experiences, our human relationships, when they all teach us not to trust, how then are we to know what intimacy really is?
We've all played the Harlot ... consider: what we pay the most attention to is our religion. But intimacy requires total surrender, and total trust. Who can say they have ever totally surrendered, and who can say they totally trust? THAT is what Jesus holds out to us.
For me, it is in worship that I find a (momentary) place of trust and intimacy, for to worship is to take the focus off myself.
One time that helped me learn this were the days and nights I spent visiting IHOP: I don't agree with everything they teach (but then who can claim perfect knowledge?). Some people are disturbed by IHOP (but then who can cast the first stone?).
But one thing IHOP does live out: surrender to Jesus in the intimacy of worship. Any if anyone objects to that, they should reconsider going to heaven (but first, consider spending some unprejudiced days in an IHOP-type of setting).
So now: turn down the lights, lock the doors, seat yourself comfortably, close your eyes, invest time, and listen to the IHOP worship on the right starting from the top (you don't have to watch, you can simply let your mind supply the visuals).