Reality #4: The Worship of All Peoples (5:8-14)
See how the rest of this chapter unfolds from v8-14.
When Jesus took the scroll the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before Him, with their golden bowls of incense, and then what happened? They sang a new song with these words, “Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every TRIBE and LANGUAGE and PEOPLE and NATION, and You have made them a kingdom of priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Later on after this all the hosts of heaven and earth sang two more songs singing these words in v12 and v13, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing…To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
These new songs the living creatures, the elders, the myriads of angels, and all those on and under the earth are singing is a song of praise to the Lion-Lamb Christ who acted in redemption, purchasing for God…what? A universal Church made up of all peoples. Notice the new song being sung isn’t about the glory of America, or English-speaking peoples, rather it’s about the glory of Christ who has redeemed men and women from all peoples and all tribes and all languages and tongues.
Since this is what the gospel does – saves men and women from all peoples – don’t you think every individual local church should reflect this and endeavor to be multi-ethnic? I’m serious about this: heaven will be universal, we will one day join in singing these songs…songs about peoples from very different backgrounds coming together under the one banner of the saving grace of the gospel.
Since the local church ought to give us a glimpse or foretaste of the greater church to come there’s something wrong with a church unwilling to join up (or even merge together) with other churches, there’s something wrong with a church unwilling to go on a mission trip, there’s even something wrong with a white church content to remain all white, or a black church content to remain all black, or a Hispanic church content to remain all Hispanic, or an Asian church content to remain all Asian. If we’re really about the business of the Kingdom of God we’ll make multi-ethnicity in our personal lives and in our church a priority.
You know what this means for us when we really get down to it?
First, we must think about the Church the way God thinks about His Church.
So many people are planting churches and becoming members of churches that seek to be effective and strong by targeting a certain segment of like minded people who are culturally and economically similar. These churches shoot themselves in the foot by having a church growth agenda that doesn’t match with the Church universal. We must think about our local churches in the way God thinks about them.
Second, we must understand who we are in Christ.
Theologian Justav Gonzalez writes this, “The multi-ethnic vision is sweet but there is a bitter side to it. There is a bitter side to having to declare the vision of many peoples, many tribes, many nations, and many languages. This bitter side involves not just adding a bit of color or folklore into our traditional worship services, it includes radical changes in the way we understand ourselves.” This is not about tolerance, it’s about who we are in Christ. Though different, when we become new creations in Christ, we become one in Christ. And if we love one another in Christ, we’ll see someone as ‘Christian’ before we see them as ‘white’ ‘black’ ‘hispanic’ or ‘asian.’
Third and lastly, we must sacrifice self.
1 Cor. 9:19-23 says, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became mas one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
Sacrificing self means we must reject all racial supremacist statements like ‘white lives matter’ or ‘black lives matter’ or ‘Asian lives matter.’ When it comes to the gospel and living the Christian life, ‘all lives matter.’ For we all came from and fell in the first Adam, and men and women from all peoples can be raised to new life in the Last Adam. Paul says “I have made myself a slave to all men, that I might win more of them…I do this for the sake of the gospel…”
I’m not asking you to ignore ethnic difference, we should celebrate and even love our distinct heritages, but we should love Jesus more.
This is really what Jesus did for us isn’t? He wasn’t like us, yet He became One of us so that we would be saved. We must do the same, sacrificing ourselves for the joy of all peoples.