I've got a confession ... I went to see the Spice Girls in concert recently at the O2 Arena. When you have all finished laughing at me, let me say that I incredibly enjoyed the show. The girls are performers - no doubt about that. But what I wasn't expecting was for God to show up and speak and show me something quite powerful during the concert. And I loved it! I love the fact that God feels so free to turn up and speak to me during a Spice Girls concert?!?! What troubles me somewhat and was the topic of a lot of conversation while driving home - was why don't I hear God more like that at church? Anyhow - that's a discussion for another time.
Anyhow - here's what happened.
While we were waiting for the concert to begin most of our side of the arena began pointing up to the boxes and the word spread round like wildfire that David Beckham was arriving. Suddenly a scream like I have never heard before swept round the place and we all saw David himself walk into the box and sit down with his children and with his family. He himself didn't act much like a superstar at all! He gave an embarressed wave and kept his head down.
You can't really see him in the video clip but the box in which he is sitting is to the left of the screen and what I was trying to capture on the clip was the fact that everyone was staring and the camera flashes that were going off. This phenomenon carried on until they turned the lights off and the concert began.
But the second thing that staggered me was that everytime Victoria Beckham sang during the concert (and I am sure that all would agree she isn't the strongest singer in the group) - the gathered 20, 000 went mad. Literally mad. Now I must confess I have never been around the Beckhams in person before so maybe this is quite normal practice, but the reaction was complete unexpected and new to me.
And while the concert began to get into full swing I began to sob (quietly) because the Presence of God showed up and began to speak to me;
"Son, why don't My people go as crazy for Me when I show up in a meeting?".
I thought about it. Ern Baxter always said that God doesn't ask a question wanting an answer - He knows. But He wants the person He is asking the question to think through what He is asking. Such as; "Adam where are you?". Eventually all I could think of was this;
"I don't know Father - can it be that most of us Christians have never really experienced Your full unveiled Manifest Presence?".
He didn't say anything for a while but gradually began to open up the songs that the Spice Girls were singing. I have no doubt that many complementarians of the Mark Driscoll-variety would have nothing good whatsoever for "Girl Power"! Surely they would see it as feminism in it's worst kind. But what I began to see sprinkled throughout the songs was an underlying cry for true love.
Here's a few examples;
"'Cause tonight is the night when two become one
I need some love like I never needed love before
I need some love like I never needed love before
I had a little love, now I'm back for more
Set your spirit free, it's the only way to be".
I'll be waiting
Everlasting, like the sun
For the moment
Ever searching for the one"
"This love is not demanding,
My heart has told me so
I hold on to my hero with faith enough to find,
The power to imagine will keep this love alive"
This doesn't really sound like brash feminists to me who sneer at the love of a man. This sounds like longing souls hungry for true, real, genuine, unabusive love. I'm sure many may disapprove of going to see concerts or at the very least seperate sacred from secular.
But I began to see a vision of what could be:
Rather than seeing 20, 000 packed in adoring the Spice Girls - I began to see 20, 000 packed in to adore God. And I heard the excited chatter sweep through the audience as the worship band began to warm up to lead us into the Throne Room of heaven. Rather than dressing to impress, many heads were bowed and many were weeping in pure happiness and heaven in the certain fact that the glory cloud of God was going to come down. Suddenly a scream swept the audience and I looked with everyone else because an entire section of the gathered worshippers were falling prostrate under the Presence and manifest glory of God. Some were even being picked out of their seats (which were plastic and shattering as they left their seats).
But rather than limited to those in that section, the glory and Presence of God began to radiate outwards like tidal waves of glory and the whole arena began to know without a shadow of doubt that GOD WAS IN THIS PLACE. I heard the rustle of robes and the angelic melodies as prophets saw columns of angelic warriors moving into the arena echoing a song of praise and worship to their Beloved King and God. I heard the excited murmer of angels wondering at the gathered saints of the Redeemed who were finally touching the Throne Room of heaven. Suddenly I heard a scream from the disabled section. A lady had jumped out of her wheelchair and was dancing and screaming in pure excitement. No one had laid their hands on her for ministry - the glory of God had simply swept over her and she was healed.
And this was even before the worship had started and the sermon had been given!
The band struck up and with them the angelic choirs of heaven. There was no agenda - there was no set song list. A simple song of worship in the Spirit began to ring out over the arena. Many were crying out in tongues and singing their own Spirit-inspired melodies of love to the King who was moving among us. The worship felt like it went on for hours - at times soft and gentle almost a whisper as we listened to what God had to say. At other times triumphant and glorious and victorious - a trumpet blast rang out! I couldn't see any trumpets or horns on stage or among the worshipping Redeemed ones so I can only imagine it was an angelic trumpet.
Finally the speaker stepped up - I don't know who he was. He wasn't a celebrity and he didn't attempt to distract from what was continuing to happen. Many (indeed most of the arena) was prostrate before the unveiled Glory Cloud. He simply began to open Scripture after Scripture and explain to the unbelievers in the arena (for there were many thousand) what was happening. "God is here" was the essence of his message, and yet he didn't give an altar call. Despite that the unbelievers streamed forward and lay before God giving their hearts and their souls to Him - the one True God. We could hear as one God speaking to us; "London is Mine". There was no attempt to disagree - we knew it was true and more importantly we knew as we left and streamed back to our homes, towns and cities that our lives would be forever changed by that encounter that night.
The speaker stopped at some point and simply with the other Ephesians 4 Ministries there began to move through the arena blessing what was happening and laying hands on those who needed it - truly serving to minister and increasing the anointing on those who had gathered. I saw countless step out of their wheelchairs with no surprise. God was here! What disease can withstand the glory of God? Prophet after prophet began to speak out and utter out the pure joy of heaven at what was happening. Finally! Heaven rejoiced because the Church had seen that the veil has been torn in two and the Holy of Holies has become our dwelling place! Our dwelling place ... this was not to be an experience. This was not to be an encounter that we would build pedestals to - to look back in the future with fondness. The Holy of Holies had become our dwelling place. Open heaven would be travelling back with us all.
Although there was 20, 000 of us sitting gathered there watching somehow God was manifest and visible to each and everyone of us personally and dealing with us each in different ways (exactly as Pete prophesied about the wedding first dance). Some were crying out in wonder and love at what He had done on the Cross by making the way open. Others were laughing hysterically with joy as "Abba" showed His undying love to His beloved children. Some were crying in repentance as God lovingly showed them the ridiculous counterfeit of sin. But each and everyone in that place met God and could utter with the Word of God; "Truly God was in this place".