A friend invited you to a church service. You’ve never gone to church. Never really thought about. Or maybe you grew up in church but it’s not something you would ever imagine inviting someone to attend? What do you do? Do you go? Your friend goes to church all the time. They are always talking about the ‘love of God’ and this ‘born-again’ stuff. Born again? Sounds like a cult of some kind. Maybe you know someone who is ‘born-again’ and all they are super goody two-shoes.
Ok, so you decide to go. Can’t be all that bad right? It’s just…you know…church. Dress nice and sit quietly as the minister speaks and they sing some hymns. I mean, this is your friend right? They wouldn’t invite you to something weird…right? Ok, so you will go. “Kinda strange though because it’s in the middle of the week. Don’t people usually go to church on a Sunday? Is my friend really a closet fanatic?! Oh-no…what have I gotten myself into?” Just go…
After hesitating…you still decide to go. Well, it almost seems they are dragging you there-forcing you to go. What’s all the pressure anyways? It’s just church. You get there and all these people you’ve never met are walking up and greeting you, as if they’ve known you for years. Has your friend been gossiping about you to these people? Why are they so friendly? This is supposed to be church right? People are supposed to be friendly in church…that’s probably what’s going on.
The service is nothing like you expect. The music is loud and there is a band-actually pretty good as far as bands go. People though are raising their hands up for some reason. People are shouting out ‘Hallelujah’ and other crazy things. Feels a bit more like the atmosphere surrounding the football games you attend on Saturday at the local high school stadium. You thought this was going to be church. All quiet and reverent…
This guy is preaching like a crazy person. In fact, what really bothers you is it seems he keeps looking at you. Speaking at you. At you specifically! You didn’t come here with your friend to be made fun of or guilted into converting into a monk or something crazy like that. The guy keeps talking about Jesus. Ok, it is church. Probably makes sense he is talking about Jesus. But he is talking about Him like He is a friend or something. Isn’t Jesus God? You knew He died on a cross but…well, you didn’t know the extent of the pain He suffered. Wow…that was a lot of pain. Crazy stories about nails piercing His hands and feet. Not that you hadn’t heard that before but…well, again, not like this. You start to really sympathize with what Jesus went through. I mean, He is God right?
Ok, service is almost over. Thank goodness! This whole thing is a bit weird after all. You just feel weird here. You feel different right now but you’re not sure why. This preacher dude is telling people to come up to the front of the church building to accept Jesus as their Lord and savior. Who goes up to the front of the church in view of everyone watching? But, something in you wants to. Something inside you is tugging at you. Something deep down inside you feels sad for what Jesus went through…and the really crazy part is that you feel like you had a hand to play in that torture He experienced-that death on the cross. You don’t want to leave. You want to go up front. No longer is just the preacher man speaking to you, now it seems like Jesus Himself is speaking to you. Are you crying? Are those tears?
Hey wait, you left your seat! You are actually kneeling down on the steps up at the front of the church. You are weeping but at the same time, you are experiencing a joy like you’ve never felt. Like no drug you’ve ever tried. Love like no relationship you’ve ever had. You are praying-repeating some prayer the minister is saying up in front of you. You feel loved. You feel forgiven. You…you…are different. This wasn’t what you thought church would be like. In fact, you don’t even want to leave now. Funny because you actually want to go up and start greeting the people around you that you don’t know. You’re doing the same thing they did when you first got there. You’re different. You’ve changed. You’re loved. By Jesus. You have been born again.
“Hey, you want to come to church?”