Making a difference or just making an appearance?

Last Thursday, we traveled to Green Bay for the “Make A Difference” tour, featuring Toby Mac, Third Day, Michael W. Smith, and Max Lucado.  I had purchased the tickets back in June as a birthday gift for my mother and an anniversary gift for my husband.  Mom is a huge Michael W. Smith fan, and I’ve taken her to a few other concerts, including one with the opportunity to meet Michael in person.  Third Day is one of the few bands Dan enjoys seeing in concert, mainly because it is always a great worship experience.

So, I even paid a little extra for VIP tickets, which included a question-and-answer time with the artists, as well as excellent seats (third row, just left of center stage).  The Q & A time turned out to be a bit disappointing, as we were not even allowed to shake hands with them.  It was basically a bunch of people shoved in a room, gawking at the artists.  The questions were even censored and/or rewritten by the emcee, so it was fairly impersonal.

As I was sitting there feeling a little disappointed, it occurred to me that the whole point of this tour was to help the poor.  The tour was sponsored by World Vision, and it was intended to make us rich, lazy Americans passionate about the disenfranchised around the world, particularly children.  The lady sitting next to my mother said she had been to every one of these shows, which were all over the country.  I’m glad she was supporting the tour, but I had to wonder if she could have made a bigger impact by staying home and writing World Vision a check for the amount of her travel expenses!

Then I thought, “OK, Lisa…what about you?”  I love going to concerts and hearing bands and speakers who inspire me.  That’s all well and good, as long as I’m not just continually soaking up, like a sponge, but never pouring it back out into the lives of others.  I looked around that room and had a sense that most of these people were either strictly “soakers” or just avid fans practicing celebrity worship.  I don’t want to be either one of those things.

I wonder how many of us truly want to make a difference but end up only making an appearance.  It’s the same thing on Sunday morning.  Lots of people show up for church and receive the Lord’s teaching, presence and communion, but how many empty themselves by giving to others throughout the week?  Let’s face it, we are all pretty self-absorbed.  Well, I know I am anyway.

We headed into the arena for the concert.  I looked around and discovered the majority of the crowd was people my age or a little bit older.  Yep, we are the people with the money, the resources…and I thought, “Here we sit!”  Soak, soak, soak.

This revelation hit me even harder yesterday morning, as our pastor issued a challenge to our young people to be like Noah to their generation: righteous, blameless, walking faithfully with God by doing everything He commands us to do.  The challenge was issued to the congregation in whole, but he called out those 25 and under in particular because they are living in a time of increasing evil, just as Noah did.

The question was posed:  “What is God commanding you to do?”  I know for certain God is commanding me to be an example.  If MY generation doesn’t lead the way, it will be a lot harder for those young people.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with soaking, but it must always be followed by squeezing into the lives of others.  Then, when we are emptied, we can soak more good stuff up again.

The past few days have filled me up.  Time to pour it back out.  Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.

P.S.  As for the concert, it was a great night.  So many talented musicians in all the bands, using their gifts to worship the Lord.  In particular, I would note Toby Mac’s bass player, Third Day’s keyboardist (with the biggest mitts I’ve ever seen to play to prolifically), and MWS’s guitarist.  Mom had never heard Toby Mac or Third Day before, and she ended up becoming a fan of both.  This is funny because A) she is 81 years old and B) it was VERY loud!  You could feel the bass vibrating through your body!  She thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, even if it took a few days to get her hearing back.  I understand Max gave a great sermon as well (I missed it), and 173 children were sponsored for World Vision.  My only musical disappointment was the absence of Michael W. Smith’s signature piano.  He played keyboard and guitar.  It was still good though!  :)

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