After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9-10)
I love the book of Revelation because it doesn't just tell us about the end of the world--it gives us a God's-eye view on all parts of life. We are shown how God sees events from the past (like the birth of Jesus) as well as events from the future (God's new creation of a world without sorrow or evil). And in between the two, we are shown how God sees our sufferings and our faithfulness, our witness and our worship.
In God's eyes, our worship is much grander than any human gathering. Angels sing around the throne; representatives of the animal kingdom (eagle and ox and lion) join in the praise. And humans worship, humans from every part of our globe, an uncountable gathering that includes every culture and every sort of clothing, every language and every musical style. We form one mighty fellowship, clothed in the white robes of Jesus' salvation, waving the palm branches of heartfelt praise.
We form one mighty fellowship, clothed in the white robes of Jesus' salvation, waving the palm branches of heartfelt praise.
This isn't just a heavenly vision. It's what's going on here on earth, too--every day, God's scattered saints are worshipping in Brazil and Kenya, in France and China, in the Philippines and Russia, in Zaire and Chile and Indonesia. Especially on Sundays, I like to think of all the churches who gather: big churches and small churches,
churches who wear robes and churches who wear the leather jackets of bikers,
churches meeting in prisons and in cathedrals and in homes and beneath spreading trees,
churches accompanied by full orchestras and churches singing a capella,
churches bundled against the cold of the polar circle and churches sweating in the equatorial sun.
Together, we praise the One who created us all. Together, we praise the One who saved us all. Together, we praise the One who rules us all in grace and love. Together, we praise the One who is making us all new.
And when we run into each other in any corner of the globe, no matter where we are from or what we look or sound like, we embrace each other immediately as brothers and sisters in Christ, one fellowship across the globe.
Remember that Sunday, March 12, is our International Missions Day. In the morning, at 9 a.m., we will have breakfast with a missionary. At 10 a.m., our normal worship will highlight God's work across the world. And at 6 p.m., we are having a Worldwide Trivia and Dinner--bring an international dish and stay for themed trivia. (Feel free to dress to match your dish.)