The theme of this issue is “Revealing Christ to the World Together” connects quite closely with our theme at Gymea Baptist this year, which is Light Of The World: Reflecting God’s Light Into Dark Places.
Reflecting Light, Revealing Christ
I think these themes are quite closely related because when we “reflect God’s light” we are in effect “revealing Christ to the world” as we seek to honour God through our actions, attitudes, thoughts and relationships. As reflectors of God’s light, we seek to demonstrate to the world the reality of Christ in us, “the hope of glory,” the hope for all humanity.
This side of heaven, I believe, we will never be able to do this perfectly, but because we are followers of Jesus, His victory over sin and death means that we are no longer children of darkness, but children of light.2 Jesus explained this to his disciples when He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Because of the gift of life Jesus has won for us through his death and resurrection, we have the light of God within us, but we ourselves are not the source of light. The true Source of light is God Himself. As we surrender our lives to His Lordship, His light changes us – refreshing, renewing and restoring us – in order that others may see and know Him. We reveal Christ more and more as we become more and more like Christ, and we are conformed to His likeness by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We are conformed to the likeness of Christ not simply for our own sake, but for the purpose of reflecting His glory more clearly in the world. In contrast to the darkness of the world, we are called to reflect the light of Christ in order that the world might see the brilliant light of hope, life and wholeness that can only be found in Him. Jesus said to His disciples, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (emphasis mine). We reflect Christ’s light in order that others may know Him and so that His Lordship might be revealed and recognised on the earth.
Because we are Christ’s “Body” on earth, the church has inherited his title, “the light of the world.” We are an imperfect, but nonetheless luminescent reflection of Christ’s light.5 So how does this relate to how we worship as communities of faith that desire to see Christ revealed in the world?
Revealing Christ To The World Through Worship
Gathered Worship is a vital spiritual discipline for Christians in order that together we might reveal Christ to the world in all we do. I believe that regularly gathering with a community of faith to worship God can empower us to reveal Christ to the world in the following ways:
1. Gathered Worship Can Cultivate A Life Of Worship
Coming together as a community of faith to centre our lives around Christ through song, sacrament, sermon and service to one another helps to cultivate a worshipful life. By intentionally focussing the rhythms of our heart and life on Jesus – who He was, how He lived, what He taught, what He valued – and applying His example to our lives, we learn how to live as God intended. Jesus is the ultimate human role model. The author of the book of Hebrews writes of the value of keeping Christ foremost in our hearts and minds saying,
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it… When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item… That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
In worship, we set our hearts on Christ, remember His teaching, and seek to follow His pattern of life. As we do so, we are empowered and energised by His Spirit to reveal Christ together in the world.
2. Gathered Worship Can Help Us Embrace A Kingdom Perspective
As we re-orient our lives around the person and work of Jesus in worship, we also grow in our understanding and application of the values of God’s Kingdom, which in turn enables us to represent and reveal Christ more fully in the world.
We grow in our understanding of God’s kingdom through singing songs that embody God’s truth in meaningful and accessible ways, through the faithful preaching of the Word, through our relationships of love and service toward one another and through sincere prayer. We learn to recognise where God is at work in the world, and we learn to respond as He calls us to join with Him in what He’s doing.
Gathered worship can help us to nurture sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and help us to develop a growing awareness of His kingdom purposes. Then, we can increasingly seek to live out the values and reality of God’s kingdom in our daily lives. Whether in family life, at work, in times of play or rest, or through the intentional investment of our time, energy and resources for His kingdom, we reflect God’s light and reveal Christ into the world together.
3. Gathered Worship Can Help Us Pursue And Express Christian Unity
Unity in the body of Christ is a vital part of revealing Christ in the world together. Gathered worship provides opportunities to join in corporate expressions of praise and response to God, which can be very unifying and defining for the community of faith. As we declare Gospel truth and respond to God in worship through symbolic actions, songs and prayer, we are able to stand together on our common beliefs and convictions as well as our shared sense of purpose and calling.
According to Jesus’ prayer for His disciples and followers, our unity is vital if we are to reveal Christ to the world together. Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before His betrayal, Jesus prayed,
“That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (emphasis mine).
Don’t Give Up
Gathered worship is a weekly opportunity for us as God’s people to re-centre our hearts and lives around the Story of God in Christ Jesus. It prepares us to see where, and how, God is at work in the world, and we are reminded anew of our calling to participate in the coming of His kingdom on earth. Worshiping together also gives us a unique opportunity, through a variety of corporate worship practices, to stand together in unity – proclaiming and demonstrating Christ’s rule and reign and anticipating His sooncoming return. So let us “not give up meeting together, but… all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 8