Setting three rows behind the student section in Hughes Hall at Asbury University, we are witnessing something uniquely amazing. God’s Spirit is being entertained by hundreds of young men and women under the age of 25 and thousands of people from around the world have come to join them. In front of me a young man has caught my attention. Ten years ago, I would have been appalled if my daughter would have introduced him to me as someone she might be interested in spending the rest of her life with. He didn’t fit my narrative, scraggly beard, and mustache. Long hair with a short ponytail sticking through a baseball cap he’s wearing backwards. He’s wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and a sweatshirt and he has a smile that could melt butter. Some would call his attire disrespectful, but no one could deny that this guy is absolutely crazy about Jesus. He’s a yo-yo, but not in a bad way. The entire time we’ve been a part of the service he’s been standing and singing with all his heart, hands raised, setting in his chair weeping and repenting, or on the floor on his knees praying, often sobbing in brokenness or humility. When there is a call to pray with someone, he’s the first to interact with the person next to him, when there is a call to pray with anyone with their hands raised, he’s climbing over chairs, praying with as much sincerity as I’ve ever seen. When the service turns back to worship, he’s all in, totally engrossed in the moment. Suddenly, I hear him as he begins to pray in the spirit, not in a crazed way, but humbly and with so much authenticity. More than once you could sense that he was what some Christians would call, “lost in the Spirit,” overwhelmed by God’s presence. This young man is smart, sensible, solid and spiritual and he is really messing with pretty Christianity. The Pharisees of our day would surely reject him, he doesn’t fit their narrative. He doesn’t fit in the pristine Christian box of how Jesus would look or act. He wouldn’t be allowed to minister on their platforms or be a part of many ministries. I can hear them now, “nice guy, but he just doesn’t fit our narrative. Clean up, look the way we’ve designed Christianity to look, and come back and see us when you are Holy like us.” Funny, what the religious elite rejected two-thousand years ago is still rejected today. This young man makes me wonder how many of today’s “Christians” would reject Jesus and twelve ordinary men. I get the feeling Jesus and the disciples would be too messy for their narrative. After a day being a part of something very special happening in a small college in a little town in Kentucky we turn to leave. Our friend is back on the floor, weeping, sobbing, praying in the Spirit, and crying out to Jesus. My bet is he doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon, he’s got several water bottles and a small bag with some food. I’ve seen some peanut butter and crackers and some fruit snacks, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are five loaves and two fish in there. Today I’ve decided I don’t own Jesus my way, His sovereignty, and the way He moves, or who He calls and uses. If you’re brave enough, pray, “God mess with my narrative.” We are living in an hour when God is asking religious people, will it be your way or mine; your narrative or mine. The real question is how will we respond? Our world is starving for more than an hour and fifteen minute Jesus appetizer, more than a manipulated move, or a lifeless experience. Asbury is a cry from a world hungry for an authentic experience with God.
PLEASE READ: Asbury. Absorb It. Bring it Home. (Tap title to read)