Naturally Out of Place
As I have studied worship for the past four months, the Lord has revealed things about my role in worship that I never knew. Most recently, he's shown me that, no matter how I feel on a Sunday morning, I truly belong with my brothers and sisters as we worship him together.
Naturally Out of Place
I don’t know about you, but when I arrive at church on Sunday morning, I naturally feel like an outsider. I’m not sure why.
This feeling might stem from having moved around a lot as a child. In some sense, I always feel like the “new kid.” Perhaps, however, this feeling is related to being both a pastor’s wife and a ministry leader. Instead of correctly thinking of myself as a typical member of the body of Christ, I can easily define myself by my roles. If I have a Bible study to announce, it’s easy for me to know where I belong. Need a message passed on to the pastor? I’m your woman. But if I don’t have a role to fill, it’s hard for me to simply be.
Or, as a final option, perhaps we could chalk up this feeling to general insecurity. Like many people, after I have a pleasant conversation, my mind easily fills with thoughts such as, “Why did I just say that? That was the dumbest thing I could have said.” Sunday morning conversations are no exception.
Knowing Our Place
Regardless of the reason, I needed help knowing my identity among my brothers and sisters so that I could freely worship the Lord with them. To be honest, I needed to have my eyes taken off of myself and put on the Lord where they belong. God’s used Art Azurdia’s sermon series on Revelation 4-5 to help me.
In this series, he expounds on what is happening right now in heaven. There, an enormous multitude, which includes angelic beings and people, are worshiping God. They proclaim, “To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Rev. 5:13). Everyone centers and focuses on Jesus together.
On the one hand, there is an individual aspect to this scene. This great group of people in Revelation 5 consists of individuals redeemed from every nation. Each person there is known by God personally, was chosen by him, and was saved for this worship through believing the gospel. Although everyone is different, every single one belongs. There are no outsiders around the throne of God. When we meet together on Sunday, we are joining these worshipers, and everyone who belongs to Jesus belongs there. No matter how we feel, we can take this reality to heart.
On the other hand, there is a corporate aspect to this scene. This massive group of people is one. Together they represent the redeemed. The common ground is that we are all sinners who needed Jesus to die for our sins so that we can approach the throne. And we can! Together we worship the Lord. Together we proclaim the glories of Christ’s sacrifice. There is true unity and a corporate identity.
It’s not just that I belong as an individual around the throne of God. It’s not just that I belong with these people. It’s that I belong to these people. We are not just one of them. We are one with them. This brings an even deeper kind of belonging. It speaks to our identity as fellow-Christians, and it destroys any “new kid” notion that we might have.
The Difference It Makes
The effects that this realization had on me are profound. When I am able to rest securely in the position that God has given me as one of his people, my focus is taken off of myself. Instead of worrying about where I fit or what people will think, I can confidently love them and either minister to them or be ministered to by them. But most importantly, understanding my place among other followers of Jesus enables me to put my focus on him. In Revelation, God is worshiped as the most glorious one; Jesus is worshiped as the Lamb slain for our sin. All eyes are on him, in an awe-filled, joyous celebration of him. This is where we belong.
For now, you and I are physically separated from this group. Our corporate gatherings on Sunday mornings enable us to join in and are a picture of the gathering we will enjoy for all eternity. One day, you and I will stand next to each other, and the throne will be our only reality. We will worship together, knowing perfectly that we belong, that our identity is in Christ, and that our God is worthy of an eternity of worship. As we continue to gather with our brothers and sisters on Sundays, may we each take to heart more fully that we belong.