Thirteen folk from my church went to a Matt Redman concert last night. The trip was organised for the youth, but in the end there were only seven members of the youth there. I had volunteered to drive, but even at the not so tender age of sixty I still feel young enough to go to concerts with the youth.
We were a bit late arriving. Friday traffic and a stop en-route at a service area with the golden arches were to blame. Driving into Bath – a city I am unfamiliar with didn’t help, but there was an underground car park opposite to the venue, which did help. As we entered the auditorium a man on stage was inviting us to “get sweaty for Jesus!” I think Jesus would probably prefer it if we used deodorant or removed some layers.
The youth and one or two not so young got themselves close to the front. I remained at the rear with three of the others. The support act came and went. Another man spent quite a long time challenging us to become supporters of Tear Fund. There was a brief interval and then Matt Redman came on stage. He is a seasoned singer, songwriter, worship leader, etc., and it showed. Things I have read and heard him in say in interviews also suggest that Matt is a rather humble man. A servant of God who uses the talents given to him and in a way that allows God to reach into people’s hearts.
The simplicity of the message in Matt Redman’s words struck me. Many worship songs and hymns seem complicated in comparison. Simplicity that tells me that it is not about being sweaty for Jesus or bopping for Jesus, but sweating and bopping with Jesus. The Jesus I read about in the Bible lived the same life as His followers. He walked the same dusty roads, and he shared the same meals. He had no home of His own, and for the last three years of His life had no apparent form of income. Jesus lived simply and brought a simple message to tell a broken world that God cares, and that God will walk alongside us and change our lives if we allow Him.
God knows us as intimately as Jesus knew the twelve disciples whom he called to follow him. Despite this God still reaches out to us with a love that is beyond human definition or understanding. All He asks in return is that we surrender everything to Him, holding nothing back. I don’t know about sweating for Jesus. I rather think it was the other way round: Jesus sweated for us. The Son of God dying on a cross wasn’t simple, but responding to that act of pure unadulterated love is.
“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away – all who have been called by the Lord our God.” (Acts 2:36-39 NLT)