An Audience of One

Once, when I was nervous about playing the piano for a church service, I asked my friend to pray for me. She texted a response, “I pray you will play for an audience of one.”

An audience of One.

To please and honor only One.

As I played, I clung to those words and made them my prayer, “ Lord, may you be pleased,” as I focused on His presence.

However, too often I am focused on another audience.

We all hear lots of voices telling us what we are supposed to do, who we are supposed to impress, the way things are supposed to be. We are constantly trying to live up to the expectations of ourselves and others. They become our focus, our audience.

But, what if, instead of attempting to meet the standard of these self-imposed expectations, we were to change our focus? What if our intention was to please only One—the One who loves us so much that He died and rose again to free us from our sin? What if all of the striving to “get it right” was replaced with relationship?

Jesus is our example. Out of obedience to the will of the Father (Luke 22:42), He traveled to Jerusalem and to the cross—a journey necessary for the salvation of humanity. Jesus calls us to a journey of the cross: “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). We follow the One Who goes before us; we follow Jesus.

In the 16th century, Lisken Dircks and her husband, Jerome Segers followed Christ. Under the shadow of the mighty medieval church and its persecuting practices, Lisken Dircks read the Bible and believed in Christ. As others had done, she chose to be baptized as a believer and thereby defied the church’s practice of infant baptism. She was part of an intensely persecuted group of believers known as Anabaptists.

After being arrested, Lisken was interrogated by two priests before whom she defended her theological beliefs using Scripture. The priests indicated that it was not proper for a woman to know Scripture; they told her, “Return to your sewing.” In a letter from her husband, Jerome encouraged her to continue in God’s Word “for Christ has called us all and commanded us to search the Scriptures.” This Anabaptist woman was neither well known nor wealthy, nor in any other way powerful. Hers was a simple life of faith based on knowledge of Scripture.[1]

In those moments of humble obedience, Lisken had no idea that her story would be recorded and retold for centuries. She didn’t know her audience would include you and me. What she did know was that she had met Jesus through His Word and could do no other than cling to Him in the face of humiliation, imprisonment, and, ultimately, death.

From what audience do you seek approval? If you are like me, you want to please Jesus, but sometimes find yourself distracted by other voices. I hope the words of the old gospel hymn below encourage you to hear Jesus’s voice as He calls to you, “Follow Me.”

“Follow Me”

Music & Lyrics: Ira F Stamphill, 1953

I traveled down a lonely road

And no one seemed to care,

The burden on my weary back

Had bowed me to despair,

I oft complained to Jesus

How folks were treating me,

And then I heard Him say so tenderly.

“My feet were also weary,

Upon the Calvary road;

The cross became so heavy,

I fell beneath the load,

Be faithful, weary pilgrim,

The morning I can see,

Just lift your cross and follow close to me.”

“I work so hard for Jesus,”

I often boast and say,

“I’ve sacrificed a lot of things

To walk the narrow way,

I gave up fame and fortune;

I’m worth a lot to Thee,”

And then I hear Him gently say to me,

“I left the throne of glory

And counted it but loss,

My hands were nailed in anger

Upon a cruel cross,

But now we’ll make the journey

With your hand safe in Mine,

So lift your cross and follow close to Me.”

O, Jesus if I die upon

A foreign field someday,

‘Twould be no more than love demands,

No less could I repay,

“No greater love hath mortal man

Than for a friend to die”

These are the words He gently spoke to me,

“If just a cup of water

I place within your hand

Then just a cup of water

Is all that I demand.”

But if by death to living

They can Thy glory see,

I’ll take my cross and follow close to Thee.

[1] Lois Barrett, “The Role and Influence of Anabaptist Women in the Martyr Story,” Brethren Life and Thought 37 (Spring 1992): 89-90.