So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV
Jesus designed the church to be a community of believers who gather together—for meals, for fellowship and for worship. They pray with one another, support one another and in essence—become family.
In the book of Hebrews, church community is so important that believers are admonished not to neglect their gathering together.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV
Last weekend, our pastor spoke about the benefits of gathering together, and specifically, gathering together for worship. This he says is important because the act of worship is not just a vertical activity. While it is easy for me to lift my hands, close my eyes and focus on my own praise to God, shared worship has a horizontal component to it as well. This means that when believers worship together, it edifies the individuals involved. A good example of this is the worship that takes place at Women of Faith conferences. The sound of 10,000 voices raised in song before the Lord never ceases to bring me to tears.
Last weekend in church we sang Revelation Song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean, which includes the refrain “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” The song describes the vivid experience of John the Apostle, who was called up to heaven, and instructed to write what he saw and heard.
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4, NIV
The prophet Isaiah describes a similar experience.
Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. Isaiah 6:2-4, NIV
Just prior to singing Revelation Song, our worship leader talked about the continual praise that occurs before the throne of God. He said that when we sing these same words spoken of by John and Isaiah, that we are joining with the angels in their praise.
While that is true, I don’t seem to think about the angels so much as I think about the other believers who’ve already gone on ahead. Those in the body of Christ, whom he’s already called home, are still part of what we call “the church.” I find comfort in knowing that while we and they are physically separated into different dimensions that neither can cross, we still worship the same Savior. Just as believers on earth who are separated by miles of ocean can simultaneously praise God, I believe that our brothers and sisters in heaven are frequently engaged in worship when we are. While physically disconnected from those believers, we are still spiritually connected by worship. And that sweet song of praise mixes beautifully before the throne.
On the journey toward Home,