It’s hard to sum up an experience like Hillsong Conference and yet, at the same time, it would seem remiss of me not to blog about something that had that much impact. The thing is, I’m not sure myself quite what is going to hit me the most. So many times during the preaching I got that amazing feeling you get when something directly speaks into your life – that was fantastic but what’s even more exciting is the feeling that there is so much more still to get. In such an intensive conference you don’t get long between messages to really think them out deeper. I loved the initial hit – and believe me T.D Jakes hit like a sixty tonne truck on Saturday morning – but it’s so exciting to think of what’s going to come through on relistening and on rereading the notes.
It’s not the place of my blog to recount the preaching. I’d really encourage you to get hold of a copy of the CDs or DVDs and absorb that for yourself. This blog entry I’m just gonna sum up something direct and practical that God has left impressed on my life after these few days. It’s not the only thing I got, it’s not even what hit me hardest but, while somethings hit you in a way that speaks into a personal circumstance and situation there are things that should challenge the way we all do life and church. You’ll find that if one word ran through the conference like the writing in a stick of rock, if one word was the focus and the centre, if one word summed up not only conference but should sum up our lives and our desires and our entirety, that word was the one written in the amp lights Thursday night: Jesus.
I know, right? Of course it was about Jesus, it was a Christian conference. No, this was about JESUS. This was about our saviour, our grace, our everything. It was peeling back the layers of stuff that have built up over the years on the church and on our lives; layers not just of tradition but of a focus that becomes about what we do and not why we do it. Something Graham Draper said in his preach a few weeks back spoke to me in a similar way when he asked us if we think the lighting impresses a God who wakes up to the sunrise and the heavens. It’s not about what we do, it’s about why we do it. It was Priscilla Shirer’s opener that really drove this home and made me think of how we, as Christians, can lose the Christ focus. We can throw our selves into service with vigour and energy but, if we can go to something she said on Saturday about the director directing Michael Jackson in the Billy Jean video: “You’re a fantastic dancer, you can put all your energy and talent into dancing but if you’re not dancing on the path I’ve illuminated for you, it won’t work.”If our focus as we serve isn’t Jesus then all we’re really getting is tired.
I think this thought is so relevant in all we do at church, and I think we’re blessed with so many Christ-focussed servants in the house, but it’s still so easy to get distracted by the what instead of the why. It’s especially timely with Servolution week this week. We can go there everyday and be nice people. We can pick up dog dirt, clear litter, make people drinks and talk. We can cut lawns, clean cars, we can serve up a storm, but if all we’re being is nice people then we just get a warm fuzzy feeling and some blisters if we overdo it. When Christ is the focus, however, that is when a nice deed becomes an eternal spark. When we do something in His name it’s no longer just about making someone a little happier for the day, it’s about showing them Love and pointing the way to eternity. Jesus makes the difference between a warm hug and a life changed.
We all get to feel good after doing good, that’s the human way, but it’s not about us. Feeling good is great but it’s a side effect. Our own happiness is not the aim. Putting on a good show is not the aim. If God wants a good show he can just poke his head in on Aurora Borealis. It’s about making Jesus the centre, it’s about directing our all to Him and pointing other people in the direction of His grace; that is the ultimate thing we can ever do for someone.
As Israel Houghton finished us off in song the whole arena rang out with, “from our hearts to the heavens, Jesus be the centre, it’s all about you”. The lasting challenge for us all is to walk away and live it out everyday.