I want to make a promise. As a worship leader I promise never to lead “The Hokey Pokey.” Not because it’s not catchy, widely familiar and can create joy and unity with snappy choreography, but because the Hokey Pokey stands in direct contrast to worship as a lifestyle described in Romans 12:1,2.
“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, which is your holy and acceptable act of worship,
and do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
I hear the voice of Jerry Seinfeld in this next paragraph.
As the classic children’s song goes, you put your hand in and then out. You put your foot in, then out. Your head in and out. Finally, you put your WHOLE SELF in - then out again. How NONcommittal is THAT? And then you “turn yourself around” in a full circle having gone NOwhere! Is that REALLY what it’s ALL ABOUT?
That’s about as existentially depressing as it gets!
Following Christ in a lifestyle of worship is about being ALL IN. Not sometimes in. Sometimes out. Becoming a follower of Christ is about turning 180 from self to Jesus, not once but daily, always moving with His help toward His likeness. There is nothing hokey or pokey about following Christ. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
In a culture addicted to the pursuit of self, especially personal happiness, that 180 turn is a real struggle. I should know. I grew up living its anthems: “It’s Your Thing Do What You Want to Do”; “Love the One You’re With”; “Nah Nah Nah Nah live for today and don’t worry bout tomorrow”; “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud! Don't hang around 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.” My parents had a different anthem but same theme, “I Did It My Way”. The generation after mine even got militant about selfishness with “You Gotta Fight for your Right to Parrtaay.”
The current of self-empowerment, self determination, believing in YOUR self, YOUR dreams, YOUR rights has only gotten stronger. Swimming against it takes more than being half-hearted.
Honestly, don’t we all wrestle with this? Can we be hot and cold? Have fickle, fear-driven, faithless, duplicitous (spelled: hypocritical), go-with-the-flow episodes? Of course. That’s why even true believers sing “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” (from the hymn “Come Thou Fount”)
There is a reason we don’t sing (though it might be more honest): SOME to Jesus I surrender / SOME to Him I freely give / I will SOMETIMES love and trust Him / In His presence SOMETIMES live. I surrender SOME. I surrender SOME…
Christ has shown us by his life and death that He is All IN for us – day and night, for the long haul. “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) So we sing “You are true even in my wandering” (from the song Forever Reign) and “Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide” (from the timeless hymn, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”)
First and foremost, it all rides on being IN Him, in fact, IN-timate with Him. So we sing songs like this from
2 Corinthians 3:18 and continue to look to Him for the transforming power to live and love and move and breathe…IN Him.
With unveiled faces we behold Your glory
Drawn to the image we are changing into
With unveiled faced from glory to glory
Make and remake us, Lord, like you
Make and remake us, Lord, like you
© 2016 Skin Horse, Inc ASCAP by billy Sprague
Let me ask believers (including me) this: R.U.N? All in? 24/7? Are we IN from here and now to our last breath? Are we living a hokey pokey faith? Sometimes in? Sometimes out? Still trying to turn our self around? Getting nowhere?
If you are not a believer (yet), and have never surrendered ALL at all, maybe you need to get face to face with this the core question: Are you IN Christ? I don’t mean just convinced by creation that God made the world. Have you been convicted that you fall short of His glory and holiness and best for you? And then been captured by His great mercy and converted by belief IN Him? Convinced and convicted fall short of captured and converted.
Conversion takes belief. Ultimately, that’s what it boils down to. “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Believing is how you get IN. “To those who believed in His name he gave the power to become children of God.” John 1:12
The mercy, hope and assurance in Jesus are just three reasons why believers still sing the most well-known song in the world; and why its beauty and power even resonates with the masses of unconvinced, unconvicted, and as yet uncaptured and unconverted souls. And why wouldn’t they? After all, a previously unbelieving heart, who became convinced, convicted, captured and converted wrote this anthem that spans generations and centuries.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see
So. R.U.N? Are you IN the One in whom “ALL things hold together?” (Colossians 1:15) Jesus is INclusive. INvites all. To be all in. INcluding you. And me (amazingly) and a former cruel slave trader, John Newton, composer of Amazing Grace.
When it’s all said and done; when doing your thing, living for today turns into a string of empty yesterdays and uncertain tomorrows; when it gets painfully lonesome on your existential cloud and you’ve done it your way till all the fight in you is partied out; you're spinning in circles around the sun but going nowhere - when the music fades, lights dim, and all our days are done…being found IN Him…IN the love that chose the cross – for you and me - that’s what it’s all about.