During my recent missions trip to the Philippines, there was a moment, in the midst of worship with the lovely people of one of the Legazpi churches, that I pictured the congregation of Oak Hills worshiping, half a world away. One of the worship teams will be playing some rock-beat tune, the congregation will be singing and swaying to the music, the lights will be low and the screens will be flashing lyrics. And God will be in the room again. There was a spiritually poignant thought that struck me in that moment, worshiping loudly with this group of Christ followers, who were crammed this morning into a rented auditorium space.
As I remembered that I am a full 15 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time, I was struck by the fact that the worship I was participating in was nevertheless still connected to the worship that the people of Oak Hills have yet to experience.
Connections. We are all interconnected melodies in the New Song that God composes in the universe. We are connected spiritually through our connection in Christ, and also connected by relationship—me with them, them with me, me with my church. It is these connections, both vertical with God and horizontal with one another, that define us as the family of God, the Bride of Christ, the church. Worship is a beautiful thing.
When we worship together on a Sunday morning, we join with the churches down the street, in the neighborhood, around the Sacramento valley, around the state, around the country.
When we worship, we join in worship worldwide. Every Sunday, we join in worship with Christians dancing in Uganda, with Christians hiding in house churches in China, with Christians in the Ukraine, with Christians rocking out in Australia, with persecuted Christians in India and in the Middle East, and with our friends in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
When we worship, we join our words with those speaking Tagalog and German, in Mandarin and Russian, in Telegu and Hindi, in Spanish and Arabic and Somali. We worship in a thousand languages every Sunday.
Here’s what I’m getting at. We as American Christians are quite sophisticated at seeing the world through a particular prism, through a particular worldview. Just check out any Facebook wall, and you’ll see people drawing lines, picking sides, creating factions. But this worldview isolates us from the greater reality of what God is doing in the world, and how God is moving in and loving the Church. Spiritually speaking, we as Christ followers actually have more in common with people in the house churches in Beijing than with your neighbor across the street.
As I sang and worshipped with our brothers and sisters in Legazpi, I was reminded again of how big a God we have. The God who made the heavens and the earth, the God who loved us enough to put on flesh, the God who calls us to be the Church to one another and to the world. And I was reminded that those connections define us in ways large and small.