Today I went with my family to Passion City Church in Buckhead and boy, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I walked in thinking that Pastor Louie Giglio was going to preach about something boring. I thought I would zone out for at least half of the sermon and not sing any of the songs, but I ended up singing every song at the top of my lungs and taking in every bit of the sermon to heart because I believe that God truly spoke through Pastor Louie Giglio that night.
There are honestly no words to describe what I felt in PCC. I could feel God’s love flowing out of every person in the room but it wasn’t just that. It was the feeling that every person in that room had a want, and a need, to know God, and learn about God, and about God’s eternal love for us.
The lights dimmed, and some people came onstage, including the famous singer Kristian Stanfill. Announcements were made and then smoke flowed onto the stage and laser lights filled the room as they played the song, “One Thing Remains”, by Jesus Culture. At first I was hesitant to sing, but I quickly caught on to the fact that here, in this holy place, no one cared what other people thought of them. They came here to praise The Lord and they were going to do just that. So I began to sing as loud as I could and as I looked around I noticed that some people had their hands up to the sky, as if they were reaching for something, and some people had their hands by their waist held open with their palms to the sky, eyes closed, taking in the feeling of worship that was oozing from every human body in the room.
Shortly after we sang another song and then Pastor Louie came on stage. He started his sermon by welcoming both visitors and regulars and then he said the words that kept me listening the whole way through the 55 minute sermon. He said, “If you have a regret in your life that you are reminded of everyday, then this is your lucky day. Today is the day you will be released from your sins.” After that I was all ears.
The title of the sermon was, “Four words for forgiveness.” The first word was regret. His point was that in order to be free from sin you must feel regret. Not the kind of regret you feel when you make a wrong turn into traffic, but the kind of regret you feel after making a decision that effects your life, and others lives for the worst. Once you feel that kind of regret, you are ready for the next word which is repay. This does not mean that you go to church everyday as payment to Jesus for bearing your sins on the cross. This kind of repayment is admitting to God that you truly feel sorry for whatever it is that you did. The third word is repent. To repent means to have a change of heart and mind that brings us closer to God. Pastor Louie said that to repent you must change the way you do things to show God that you are willing to change in order to become closer to him and in order to never make that mistake again. The last word he shared was release, and for some reason this word hit me close to home. He read a bible story about a woman who was caught in the act of adultery.
She was brought up in front of Jesus by the teachers of religious law and this is what they said to Jesus,
“This woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
Jesus simply got down on his knees and began to draw in the sand. They kept demanding an answer so shortly after he rose and said to them,
“All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
After the accusers heard this, one by one they left the temple until it was just the woman and Jesus. Jesus asked the woman,
“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
The woman replied, “No Lord.” And then Jesus said,
“Then neither do I, You are released, go and sin no more.”
That last sentence Pastor Louie said echoed through the room followed by shouts of, “Amen!’s and Hallelujahs!’s” from various people. Then he said, “Now those of you who have regret, go and sin no more. when you leave this place you will leave without the weight of your decision on your shoulders, for grace is the free and unmerited favor of God.” At that moment I felt a weight lifted from me and I could feel God’s presence all around me, comforting me.
This is a moment I will never forget for I have felt God’s reassuring presence and it was a feeling of pure love, bliss and thankfulness that I have never felt before in my life. I urge you to go and visit Passion City Church some time soon and hopefully you will have the life changing experience that I did.