Cold. Windy. Cold. A crowd of people, almost ten times the size Jesus fed with the loaves and fishes. Rows of bubbling, energetic 18-20somethings. Surrounded more immediately by friends after a 15 hour drive and three days of adventures in the city of Atlanta.
Mob mentality takes over as the doors open. Hundreds of thousands of young adults rush into the Georgia Superdome, excited to find seats. Stoked to be in the presence of so many other believes, ready to be filled. Why does my skepticism, my critical eye take over now? Why am I finding fault with everything? Why am I questioning?
Quickly, quickly now, I must follow my friends. Seats. We must find seats. There’s no point going for the front now, we won’t find enough seats. We won’t find any seats. Go to the back. We can still get seats. We are still on the floor. We are still so close. So close to the stage. Bright lights, I can see it now. Let’s hope they don’t flash too much.
Seats. We have seats. We made out well. Minus that camera in the way. Three huge screens stand in front of a black curtain. Entire chapters of scripture scroll across the center screen as the Passion 2012 logo surrounds it on the other two screens. We are sitting. The chairs are comfortable. Folding chairs, black. They have thick padding covered by… something fancy and durable. Pleather?
A solo voice calls out in the darkness. Reading the scripture on the screen. The scrolling scripture has switched places with the Passion 2012 logo. And here we go. I’m questioning again. Who decided these specific letters were the word of God? What happened to the other letters of encouragement sent at this time? What happened to the other letters Paul wrote? Why haven’t we added anything to the Bible for almost 2,000 years? Why is this so corny? Why is this so amazing?
Lights are flashing. There are six readers, total. They continue reading. A light focused on each as they read. The intensity builds in the room. Readers begin reading in pairs, trios, all together. Drummers take the stage. The beat builds.
It almost feels like a Christian version of the party in Matrix Reloaded, glow in the dark drumsticks quickly and vibrantly pound the drums. I can feel the beat in my chest. It throbs in my ears, the sort of exhilarating energy, vibrant passion, armhairs standing on end.
The scrolling scripture turns into a video of text, spinning and twirling, moving in shapes and patterns. It lasts forever and ends as quickly as it all started. 45-plus minutes of scripture. This is how the week starts.
It transitions into worship. New songs. Songs I’ve never heard before, yet somehow I know the words. Kingdom songs. Songs that will be around for forever. As white words flow across the screen, the background is the group of leaders on-stage about 30 yards away.
The surreality continues as Louie Giglio speaks of the 44,000ish other people in the stadium. Of what 268generation means (it’s from Isaiah 26:8). Then he speaks of the importance that no matter what happens during the week, all that matters is that the name of Jesus leaves the conference.
I’m struggling here. I remember discussions from last semester on cults. Then a question begins to form in my mind. What’s wrong with being the majority culture? It seems as if majorities are just as much a minority as minorities are.
In Luke 7:11-17, Jesus raises a dead child back to life. The son of a widow, being carried out of town. This isn’t happening in a coffin, like modern America is used to. This is a wrapped body, lain on a stretcher.
As we sit for a moment and listen, I realize how cold it really is. I look up to the ceiling and realize it’s just a huge thick tarp of some kind.
We could be that dead child. We could be wrapped up by the trappings of our lives, lain on the stretcher of the world. All we need to do is let go. Let God. Give our wounds, our hurts, our pain, our scars to Jesus. There is no shame, no failure too great for him. “Have the life God is dreaming of for you,” said Giglio.
The Thief, the enemy, Satan comes to steal, to kill, to destroy. Louie basically said, in a watered down manner that we need to accept the supremecy of Jesus. He knew exactly who he was and what he was doing. Jesus was willing to do what no oneelse – not the rabbi, not the Pharisees, not anyone – was willing to do. He does this daily for us, because we can’t do it for ourselves. He was not afraid to stop the funeral procession now, and he’s not afraid to stop the funeral procession in your life. You just need to let it happen.
He is life.
Tertiary thought: have you ever considered how we say “the thief” or “the enemy” or “the deceiver” and how much that’s like saying “he-who-must-not-be-named?” It’s like, we’re giving him more power by trying to not say his name. Speak against his name and fear not, for God is in control.