Bishop's Message

The audience of one

Jul 2004    

TRY this thought experiment. You wake up one morning and prepare to go to work. You go to the kitchen and greet your wife but she does not return your greeting. “Is she angry with me?” you wonder. You stand in front of her and ask her what is wrong. She ignores you and does not answer your questions. In fact, she seems to look through you. You are deeply puzzled and troubled by this unusual experience.

Deep in thought, you arrive at the of-fice and greet your colleagues. But no one greets you, no one talks to you. To catch their attention, you belt out a song in your best voice, hoping that they would stop their many conversations or their work and no-tice that you have arrived at the office. But no one acknowledges your presence.

Then a terrifying thought blows up in your mind. You have become invisible and inaudible! No one can see you or hear you. You can’t converse with anyone. You can’t catch anyone’s attention. You are all alone. You are as good as dead.

A voice breaks through your muddled thoughts. “Good morning my child,” the voice greets you. “Lord, is it you?” you query. “Yes, it is me,” says the loving voice. The following conversation ensues.

You: Lord what’s happening? Why does no one hear me or see me?

Lord: Oh, I can see you and I can hear you my child.

You: But the others – they can’t see me! Why?

Lord: Do you remember, my dear child, that when you first noticed me in your life and responded to me years ago, you wanted to live just for me?

You: Yes, Lord I remember that. I re-solved that I shall live my life, not for the applause of the world, but to please you.

Lord: Over the years, you have forgotten that my child. Your world became crowded with people and expectations. You were trying to please everyone and your life be-came an unending performance to win the approval and applause of the world. You even forgot that I was around. Your eyes were so fixed on the world that you forgot to look up. I know how it feels when you are not seen or heard; I have often tried to catch your at-tention but you had not noticed.

You: I … I am sorry Lord. I had been living a distracted life. I have been so foolish.

The God who loves us is watching

Lord: Cheer up child! Today I am giv-ing you a gift. You don’t need to perform for anyone else. I want you to discover the joy of living just for me. I am your audi-ence of one for today. You are free from any feedback except from me. I want you to know how much you are worth to me, and how much I love you child. Come en-joy this day in my presence..!

WE LIVE in a crowded world. And we often wear different roles, different masks to please the many people who re-late with us. As Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage … ” – it often feels like that, does it not?

You end up performing most of your life. You try to look good so that you can please the crowd. Winning people’s approval and applause on what-ever size of stage becomes the key strategy of life. In the process you lose yourself. Your inner life remains unattended to. Somewhere you sense your emptiness and bankruptcy.

It is little wonder then that Paul, when assessing his life and ministry, wrote “I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Cor. 4:3-4). These are not words of self-defiant and self-indulgent individualism. Rather, they reflect deeply the fact that we are to live our lives before the highest audience and highest court in our lives. Ultimately, it is God’s approval and God’s judgement that matters. It is far better than social approval or self-approval. It is only a person who lives this way who would be true to self and act compassion-ately in society.

The trouble is, many Christians spend much of their energies trying to please themselves or others more than trying to please God. Whatever others say becomes more important than what God whispers in their hearts. They waste away in front of an audience that is often demanding, unforgiv-ing and uncaring. What a great difference there is when we discover the audience of one – that the God who made us and loves us is watching us.

To live in front of this divine audience of one means that we need to keep our eyes on God. The writer to the Hebrews urges us to run the race with perseverance by fixing our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:1-2). That is how one is to live in the presence of the divine audience. I suppose it is like when a runner in a race notices only his father in the cheer-ing crowd. He keeps his eyes on his father’s smiling face and lets his legs and arms spell out the message, “This one’s for you dad!” Or when a child performing in a kindergar-ten song fixes her childlike gaze on her mother’s face filled with teary pride. That is all that matters to that little girl.

Oh to learn to live this way! How much it would please our Father in heaven if we each lived our lives for Him, if our lives on earth sent a message to heaven – “This one’s for you Father.”

But how do we keep living in the presence of the audience of one? It is meant to be a gift not just for a day, but for a whole lifetime. How do we keep our eyes on Je-sus, with so many distractions around us? The secret is love. When you are so enthralled by Him, when you notice with awe His glory, when you see His love and goodness, it will no longer be a struggle. You will find that you can’t take your eyes off Him. You would have found the joy and the freedom of life lived in front of the audience of one.

 

LOVE IS THE SECRET

How do we keep living in the presence of the audience of one? How do we keep our eyes on Jesus, with so many distractions around us? The secret is love. When you are so enthralled by Him, when you notice with awe His glory, when you see His love and goodness, it will no longer be a struggle. You will find that you can’t take your eyes off Him.

REACH OUT

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