Stand Up for the King
A Canadian choir, a football stadium and a flock of birds might be saying something to God's people as a resolution for each and every year.
first published 09/01/2011
Over the Christamas 2010 season an online video ‘went viral’ with over 30 million views on YouTube. In the opening shots the video – produced in Canada – showed an everyday scene within a food hall in a shopping centre.
However amongst the diners were members of a choir who stood up sequentially to join in the tremendous Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.
Whether the singers were believers or not, and irrespective of the motives of the choir, the result was that the words from the book of Revelation giving glory to God were broadcast and heard all around the world. The whole scenario was a striking example of how God can use the ordinary and the secular situation to His praise and glory.
However as I viewed the video (more than once) I felt that the Lord was giving us an enacted parable through it. Just as the choristers were initially seated and incognito amongst an everyday crowd of people so does the Lord have believers in all situations and in all nations. However in the daily routines often these disciples – including ourselves – are ‘invisible’: there is nothing in the situation that we might find ourselves from hour to hour that would identify our faith in Jesus Christ.
A transformed scene
Yet when the first choir member stood up and sung the initial ‘Hallelujahs’ into her mobile phone, there was an instant transformation of scene. An initial sense of "What is happening here?" rapidly changed to wonder and awe as more and more diners rose from their tables and their positions in the food hall to add their presence and voices to the swelling volume of praise.
Suddenly an everyday secular situation was transformed as young and old listened in rapt and appreciative attention as the paeans of praise to God resounded. Cameras on mobile phones were quickly pressed into service as all eating and drinking activities became sidelined by the thrill of the occasion.
And yet even as the choir rounded off their rendition and as quickly as the situation had been transformed at the outset, the singers sat down to take their places back amongst the diners and shoppers. But while they again became ‘invisible’ they had changed the scene.
However it was and is obvious that the choir’s initiative was no impromptu event. Much rehearsal, organisation and planning must have gone into it. Permissions would have had to have been sought, the video cameras and operators would have had to have been in place and the choir members (perhaps over a period) would have to have found places amongst the ordinary customers in the food hall. This was no ‘accidental’ happening: it was all carefully thought through and executed. The individual choir members had advance knowledge, and the first to stand would have known that she was not going to stand alone.
But it does not often happen this way. A different situation sometimes pertains.
Stand up for the champions
It was in this context that another recent incident illustrated an interesting dynamic. One of the two principal football teams in the Highlands is Inverness Caledonian Thistle (ICT). In April 2010 the team was promoted back into the Scottish Premier League from the top of the 1st Division. And it was on 11 December that the Highland footballers held Glasgow Rangers, the 2010 SPL champions, to a 1:1 draw.
In common with modern stadia, the spectators were seated throughout the game with the stewards keeping a close eye on the fans’ behaviour. During the half-time interval at the Rangers game, a number of fans stood up to innocently stretch their legs: but, on this occasion, the stewards started to take a tough line and tried to force them to sit down again. The stewards' approach was perceived as being unnecessarily heavy-handed – and there was a reaction.
A small relatively-unknown ICT supporter from a poorer part of the city who was seated at the back of the stadium, sensed the aggravation that the fans were feeling; and he stood up. With reference to his team’s recent victory in topping the 1st Division, and without the assistance of any PA equipment he shouted: “Stand up for the champions”.
At his call the entire ICT support base rose in unity to its feet. The stewards were rendered powerless: this was a spontaneous mass movement against which they could do nothing.
The situation well illustrated what can happen when just one voice articulates the heart-felt emotions of a multitude of people.
This dynamic can off course operate for good or for ill. And Adolf Hitler is by no means the only example of the worst abuses of crowd manipulation. But we can see the effect at work in the pages of Scripture — when a single prophetic and Spirit-inspired voice can speak to a nation. We read of the response of the people (Neh 8:5-6) when Ezra read from the Law of Moses.
When the Spirit moves
Flock of starlings
And change can come upon a situation suddenly. The scene within the food hall was transformed in the instant of the first sung ‘Hallelujah’. The football fans rose to their feet as one at the moment of the call.
The same thing can be observed in the world of nature; and it is indeed a wonder to behold. A flock of hundreds of starlings can take a completely different direction in the space and time of a single wing-beat. How do they know the moment?
How do they do it? What is at work in their midst?
Our country and many other countries are in great spiritual darkness and facing enormous spiritual and political threats. Yet God can change these things in an instance.
At the time of the revival under King Hezekiah God’s word tells us: “Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly.” (2 Chron 29:36 NKJV). The change came as Hezekiah cleaned out the temple (and this action could have a modern parallel).
However a move of God could perhaps come through persecution. Persecution and revival often go hand-in-hand. But whatever God might do amongst us, let us pray that He who controls the nations will move in sovereign manner and for His glory.
Stand up for the King
Let's kill the lie that 'faith is a private matter'. Christ will have none of this.
The fans in the football stadium stood up when they felt the call: let the disciples of Jesus and lovers of God be ready to listen and obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit; and respond with a holy boldness: to stand and be counted.
It is unlikely – as in the case of the food hall choir – that we will have advance notice; or the assurance that there will be many, or indeed any others around us to stand along with us.
The situation might more resemble that of the little man in the stadium who, in the first instance, was prompted to stand alone.
But whatever the circumstances – individually and/or collectively – we should be prepared to answer the call to ‘Stand up for the King’.
"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven."
Imagine for a moment how the first singer felt just before she stood up to sing the opening bars of the chorus. Until her fellow choir members joined in she was effectively standing alone and vulnerable. [Pause here for a moment and put yourself into her shoes.]
Imagine how she would have felt if no one else had stood up to join her.
So if we see a fellow Christian standing in an exposed position because of their faith and in a testimony to Jesus Christ, let us not leave them standing alone.
The Editor, 01/09/2013