Story - Guitar Dance
Story of 'Change Your Planet' camp where we met in the big circus tent. - Joey Howard brought Gatorade powder, and we were all eating it like pixie sticks, by the handful and we all started vomiting in the middle of the church service.
And how one night during worship, it just seemed like something was happening in me (and in lots of others there too) where God was moving in this particularly powerful way and normally I was super concerned with looking cool, especially to the girls, that's mostly why I learned guitar, but I just felt like my feet hand a mind of their own, and I started a to dance. And once I started, I couldn't stop. I had a wireless guitar pack on, so I was free to go wherever I wanted and I could still play the guitar and it would come out of the speakers. I danced up and down that circus tent, I danced OUT of the circus tent, I danced circles around the circus tent. And I just could not stop until I literally felt like I was gonna fall over. One thing to note is that the people in the tent could still hear what I was playing, but I, dancing outside the tent, could not. So I can only imagine what kind of horrors were coming through those speakers from my spirit infused guitar dance session. And I was out there screaming at the top of my lungs how much I loved Jesus.
Some of you are hearing this and you're thinking "Aww what a cute story." And others are literally looking for an exit at this very moment.
It was an amazing experience
To in that moment be free of the constant pressure to BE something or someone, to be impressive to people, to always look cool.
Being obedient to God and being super concerned with what everybody thinks about you cannot coexist for very long.
But it's an amazing thing to simply be in the presence of God, completely unashamed.
In 2 Samuel 6, we see David is a similar situation, but wearing considerably less clothing.
Last week - anointed King
Ark - Covenant - Capital City
We know from last week, that David has just been anointed King. So now they're gonna take the arch of the covenant, which is big deal in the Old Testament. It's a very holy, sacred box if you will, like a 4 x 2 and there were certain items in there that were kind of like souvenirs from when God had done amazing things.
This box symbolized the presence of God himself.
And so they have this huge ceremony where they're gonna bring the arch back to the capital city where David wants it.
David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. (2 Samuel 6:1)
He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. (2 Samuel 6:2)
They set the ark of God on a new cart (New cart) and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart (2 Samuel 6:3)
Notice that. A new cart. Hmm.
with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. (2 Samuel 6:4)
David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals. (2 Samuel 6:5)
Now pay attention here, this is why you all love the Old Testament
When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. (2 Samuel 6:6)
The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:7)
Then David was angry (the party was going great, Lord. Before you came in and started smiting people) because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. (2 Samuel 6:8)
Now I know that stories like this is why some of you sort of avoid the Old Testament. How is it that the God who loves us with unconditional, never ending love would come and kill this guy for just trying to be helpful.
We get to the New Testament and we see God finally and perfectly revealed in Jesus, who loves us with unfathomable, unconditional love. But then you have God in the OT who seems to be unbelievably picky and temperamental.
I'm not sure I can tell you anything that will make that go down easier.
But I will say that I don't believe that's the point of the story. This story serves as a contrast to what happens next:
So this shuts down the party of course. And in verse 14, they try this whole ordeal again. Sans Uzzah.
Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, (2 Samuel 6:14)
while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. (2 Samuel 6:15)
As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul (who was now David's…. wife) watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, (listen to this) she despised him in her heart. (2 Samuel 6:16)
They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:17)
Domestic disputes -
Now what you're about to see is a behind the scenes picture of how domestic disputes start. Michael is furious with David, but they were in public, it was a celebration, so she just keeps quiet, and it doesn't hit the fan till David gets back home. Has anyone ever been there? Don't raise your hand. So the party's over and they're back at the house and Michael is going to tell her husband the King what she really thinks.
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” (2 Samuel 6:20)
So in fairness, I don't believe that David was dancing before God fully nude, perhaps there's a time and a place for that. Essentially he took off his kingly outer garment and was wearing something like a loin cloth.
So Michael, David's wife says 'What you were doing was shameless! Exposing yourself and making all the slave girls uncomfortable. You should be ashamed of yourself.)
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father (In-Laws) or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father (now men, you're gonna want to write this in the 'Don't ever do this' column. If you're gonna bring up the in-laws, you better have God on your side. Cuz it's about to get ugly.) or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. (2 Samuel 6:21)
I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. (2 Samuel 6:22a)
Oh I embarrassed you? Well now that you said that, next time I'm gonna be twice as bad! Whatever I did, next time I'm gonna do it twice as loud and twice as long.
You say I was making other people uncomfortable, next time I'm gonna be so bad that I'll make MYSELF uncomfortable.
But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” (2 Samuel 6:22b)
I'm gonna be bad I make myself uncomfortable, and the slave girls are still gonna love it.
And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death. (2 Samuel 6:23)
And I think the implication there is pretty clear. I love that the bible says 'And needless to say, they didn't have any kids together, if you know what I mean.'
And so there's these 2 characters - Uzzah and Michael (who was David's wife). And they serve as a contrast of David. And you can learn 2 things.
So let's talk about Uzzah. To understand what's really happening here, you need to compare how Uzzah was behaving during this ceremony vs how David, the King, was behaving.
Uzzah - Hard - understand - God - so mad
And it's kinda hard to understand why God gets so mad to the point of killing Uzzah for just trying to stop the ark from falling over. I mean, it would actually be less shocking, if he stopped the ark from falling over, and God commended him for that. That's much easier to understand. But for stopping it from falling over, I'm going to smite you dead, what's going on there?
Ark - specific instructions - Numbers 4 ≠ touch
So they're carrying in the ark of the covenant, there is a very specific instructions on how this is supposed to happen. And it specifically said in Numbers 4 to not touch it during transportation of you will die.
Also -- 'new cart'. - Philistines
I also probably has something to do with the fact that they're using a 'new cart'.
You bible nerds will know that the enemy - the Philistines - actually had the ark in their possession for awhile, so it's likely that this new cart came from them. Some fancy new philistine technology. - It was probably a more efficient way to carry the ark, which may give you a hint on why this is a problem.
Now this guy Uzzah, he was one of the guys responsible for the safe transportation of the ark.
So let me see if I can explain this: Uzzah, who was a professional holy person, it would seem got so comfortable with the things of God that he tried to manage that which was holy.
To try to control something that wasn't his to control.
Eugene Peterson who's a hero of mine wrote a book on the life of David called 'Leap over a wall' says this about this passage:
"It's fatal to take charge of God. Uzzah is the person who has God in a box, and officiously assumes responsibility for keeping him safe from the mud and dust of the world.
Men and women who take it upon themselves to protect God from the vulgarity of sinners and the ignorance of commoners keep showing up in religious precincts."
He's right of course. This is how religion can be very dangerous. We become so familiar with the things of God that we start to feel like we're God's bodyguard. I'm here to protect God from you horrible people. Or maybe it's more like a gatekeeper, where you become the person who decides who's welcome at Jesus's table and who isn't.
The story of Uzzah shows us that God will not be managed. God was keeping his people safe. God doesn't need Uzzah keeping him safe. - "I told you not to touch it. And if I'm gonna fall, you let me fall. I don't need you to be my bodyguard."
Uzzah makes this mistake that religious people always do - they try to domesticate that which cannot be domesticated. And in that moment, God strikes him dead.
Amazing: David gets mad @ God.
Now I think what's really amazing is that David gets mad at God for doing this. And knowing how God can be in the Old Testament, sometimes David's frankness with God makes me a little nervous. David, do you not remember that God literally just killed your friend there? Now is not the time to start a fight. You can see this all over the Psalms where David often accuses God of horrible things.
But God never responds negatively to David questioning him. Not once. And I almost think that God LIKES this about David. That David has this rugged honesty about him. That David doesn't treat him as cautiously as Uzzah does.
The Uzzah's who need to domesticate and control and keep everything safe and predictable. - He resists that.
But the David's of the world, who seem to throw caution to the wind when they're talking to God. - God loves that.
"How - apply - 2019?" : We become like Uzzah when we become overly opinionated on how God ought to deal with somebody else.
And as weird as it sounds, we can reject the move of God in the world because it doesn't look how we expect it to look.
I've found that God's work in people lives can often times look really chaotic and not how we expect. That God is moving in people's hearts, but we can reject it because their life is still really imperfect.
It's so easy to get to the place where we 'understand' how God moves.
God would never work in THAT kind of person.
There is a great and subtle temptation to suggest to myself or others where God is working and where not, when he is present and when not, but nobody, no Christian, no priest, no monk, has any ‘special’ knowledge about God. God cannot be limited to any human concept or prediction. He is greater than our mind and heart and perfectly free to reveal himself where and when he wants.” (Henri Nouwen)
Lot - Christians - stopped listening …
And in the same way, there's lots of Christians today, that have stopped listening to God, because they think they already know what he's going to say. But they don't.
Jesus - surprising
But you know what, Jesus was surprising. So don't be an Uzzah.
Michael - Same role - Domesticate
But you can see here that David's wife Michael is filling the same role as Uzzah did, which is being the one who is trying to domesticate the God who refuses to be domesticated. Trying to tame the God who is untamable.
David took off his kingly garments and danced in his underwear basically. And that was entirely too wild for his wife Michael.
Michael is trying to make life with God predictable, and safe, and boring quite honestly.
I don't think the point of the story is the merit of liturgical dancing. That's not the point.
The point here is how Michael was concerned about appearances in a way that David was not.
David is never hung up on image management. What will the maidens think? I have to look Kingly. When David is dancing before the Lord, he's just thinking about himself and God. That's it.
And this is how David lived his whole life. He was naked and unafraid. This is how he did everything. Including, by the way, how David did wrong things. He did them openly in front of the presence of God too.
So even in his highs and lows, there's always something authentic about David. Where he never tries to hide himself from God.
I just feel like from when we're very young we're taught how to manage our image. And other people's expectations of us. And we know the masks that people expect us to always wear.
We learn how to manage our 'cool'. - And that's not an age specific thing. Some of the most image obsessed people I know are double my age. - People who insist on always looking or being perceived a certain way.
Me : guitar player : dancing - Want
And then I remember what it felt like to be the guitar player who was dancing around the tent, trying to play my guitar part and just screaming at the top of my lungs how much I loved Jesus.
I want to feel THAT again.
I want to remember what it was like to just be so occupied with how grateful I am to God, that there's not a whole lot of space to care what you think about it.
I want that kind of purity in my relationship with God. I want that kind of authenticity.
Story - Teenagers - Past Week
Story of talking with teenagers this past week about being a Christian is embarrassing.
This past week I had a meeting with a couple of teenagers, and one of them said something that I thought was really interesting. They said 'I live in a very specific social group, and to go in there and say I'm a Christian, well people would lose a lot of respect for me.'
And I basically responded with: "Yeah duh."
Being a Christian makes you uncool in a lot of people's eyes. Duh.
Maybe time: Christian - fit in - OVER
There may have been a time in the 70's or the 80's where being a Christian was a way to fit in. That's over. 2019, being a Christian is a way to stand out. And not in a good way in lots of peoples eyes.
That's why I say that following God and obsession with being cool cannot coexist for too long.
Me - gym - pastor.
You oughta see how people respond when they see me at the gym, ask me what I do for a living, and I say I'm a pastor. It sucks all the fun out of every conversation.
Locker room talk is a real thing. It's not a Christian thing, but it is a thing, and nothing shuts down a good-ole locker-room-talk session quicker than when the pastor walks in.
That's just the way that it is.
Jesus warned you it was gonna happen. "They're gonna reject you, but they rejected me first."
Think about this: We live in a review culture. Where you don't know what you think about something until you find out whether or not it's acceptable to like it.
"Hey what do you think about the new avengers movie?" ….
And you're going "Well I loved it, but it's only got a 32% on the rotton tomato-meter, so I'll say it was ok."
Like lets say your favorite movies are Adam Sandler movies, well you have to take that secret to your grave.
And what's funny is you start talking like you like things that you don't.
But somebody told you it was cool.
It's like "Man, I hate this music! But everyone says it's brilliant, so just bob your head along with everybody else and act like you understand what's so great about it."
Years ago my friend was trying to get me into Kendrick Lamar. Who is this foul-mouthed rapper who may or may not be a Christian. - And they told me to So I spent hours reading about his backstory and what all these songs mean. And I just have to confess to you: I hate that music. It's nothing personal. I'm sure he's a great guy, but I think his music is just stupid.
But even when I say that, I feel like I'm having these two competing forces in my head, which is the truth, and what people are gonna think about me.
And I think that can get so extreme in some people where I honestly believe you can't get a genuine response to anything.
We can never just love or hate a thing, and who cares if other people like it or not.
"What do YOU think?" "Me too."
And you can live your whole lives like that. That's not just a miserable way to follow Jesus, that's a miserable way to be a human being. To feel like you always have to consult with everybody first.
Worst examples - Christ Followers
And if I'm being perfectly honest, I think one of the worst examples of this is Christ Followers.
Where everything in your Christian life is filtered through what socially acceptable in your group of friends.
I talk to people who basically say: "To let me friends know I'm a Christian would be social suicide." - I totally hear that, and I totally sympathize, but at some point you are gonna have to make a choice.
Remember when Jesus says when you enter into the kingdom of God you have to do so as a little child.
I think there's things that you knew then, that you don't know now.
I don't know how many of you have read Robert Fulghum's book: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. That's probably true.
I went to seminary. I have my degree. I have spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to learn the Bible. But sometimes I think too much knowledge, if you're not careful, just kind of puffs you up, and complicates something that is supposed to be really simple.
Grace ≠ weighed down
It's amazing when I see my one year old daughter who's not weighed down yet.
Before you started to being overly concerned with what people think about you.
Cool kids table
Before you thought about what it would take to sit at the cool kids table.
Some of the ways we're getting smarter have a way of making us dumber at the stuff that really matters.
And again, this is coming from someone who has hundreds of hours of bible teaching available online for free.
Beautiful - David -- childlikeness
That's one thing that's so beautiful about David. David will experience painful heartbreak in his life, but he always has this childlikeness before God. And part of how you protect that in yourself is by not being overly concerned with what people think of you.
Question: In what ways has my faith grown old and rigid?
This isn't an age thing. This can happen in the 1st year of you becoming a Christian. Where that childlikeness just dies.
Maybe it has something to do with how you perceive the move of God in other people. And how you feel 100% confident to be the hedge on what God should and should not do. - Like Uzzah.
And maybe it has something to do with you choking out God's move in your life just being obsessed with what other people might think about it. - Like Michael.
Good Friday is coming this Friday, so we're not doing communion today, we're doing it Friday.
So I don't have a big splashy ending, but I do want to pray for you.
Of course part - worship
Of course part of this has to do with worship. And of course I want you all even in our worship services to be able to worship God with your whole heart unconcerned with the people on either side of you. Of course I want that.
But it's bigger than just what we do at church. I think this is something God wants to do in our lives. To restore a childlike, open, raw, transparency before God. Where we take all we are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we bring it before God.
And I think there's so much freedom in that. Where you're free to be with God and free to be who God made you with eyes of wonder that you had when you first met him.
(Pray) / (Good Friday / Easter)