We began in Part 1 of our 5 part blog series concerning Jesus as Worship Leader by considering the writer of Hebrews reference to Jesus in Hebrews 8:2 as “minister.” Not only is Jesus’ identity that of High Priest in the heavenly realms, but the work he performs on our behalf is that of ministry. I’d encourage you to check out why Jesus is the only one able to bear the title Worship Leader (Part 1). Secondly, we considered in Part 2 what he does as our leader. He has a rhythm of leading, a liturgy, and a way of forming all of creation.
In our narcissistic day-and-age where liturgy is all-too-often rendered as meaning the “work of the people,” we discover, in looking at Jesus’ leadership, that his liturgical work is work done “for, in and on the people.” This is a HUGE shift. We tend to highlight our actions in worship—I surrender, I lay it down, I will follow—and we tend to neglect the actions of God—he laid it down, he leads, he obeyed and surrendered perfectly to the Father’s will etc. This is a paradigm shift that has to take place at the worldview level.
Following the aforementioned, we have begun to discuss the ramifications of Christ’s leadership. In Part 3 we considered his role in the cosmos, and in our post today we’ll consider his role in the church, and next time we’ll talk about his role in the culture.
The Church of God is like…
The Bible uses so many different metaphors to describe the church. We can never fully comprehend what the church is “like,” so God, being the liturgist of all creation, points to created things as metaphors to help us understand at least in part what it means for us to be “the church.”
The Bible says the church is body, many but one, and connected to Christ as our ‘Head.’ Like a temple we are built up. Like a bride we are married to Christ our Beloved. The church is pure like a virgin, and yet unified as if in the same way sex unifies man and wife as one flesh. We are likened to a family, citizens of a kingdom, members of a household; priests in a spiritual house, and we ourselves are containers that house the presence of God.
I know this is not an exhaustive list (this is a blog remember), but picture the imagery. The church is a people shaped like a unified body possessing the DNA and description of a family household. God is clear throughout Scripture that as our “minister” and leitourgos (See Part 1-3), he forms and shapes our lives in the home in the same manner as he does the cosmos.
Consider the parenting tactics of Deuteronomy 11:19-21; “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
If Christ is indeed the Parent of the Universal household of the Kingdom then he shapes all of life. He gives us sitting, lying, walking and rising rhythms that help us process life. These fit within our calendars and schedules as we play out the larger time continuum. In Numbers 29, God acknowledges this continuum even further. He orders and shapes Israel’s life in daily offerings, Sabbath observance (weekly), monthly offerings, and annual festivals and feast like the Passover and Feast of Weeks. Did you catch the liturgy? The Shape? The progression?
For those that are sitting and lying down he gives us liturgical prayers and rhythms of Sabbath to enjoy such a rest. For walking along the way he gives us daily gleanings, wave offerings, and remembrances by which to grab another moment with him. For those that rise he gives festival and “joy that comes with the morning,” and “new mercies every day—great is His faithfulness.”
Christ has made all of life into worship, and all his people into ministers.
This is what motivates Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 to call all who believe in Christ a “royal priesthood and a holy nation.” His theology embraces Jesus as the divine story-teller behind our world’s narrative. He realizes we are all characters in his divine worship service and drama. He realizes that we all are called to be ministers (servants), and that everything concerning our time (datebook), talents, and treasures (bankbook) is to be used in priestly and worshipful service. In a sense, we are all little “w” worship leaders under our great High Worship Leader. Our every waking moment should be spent trying to turn our minutes, days, weeks, months, years, sitting, sleeping, walking, routines, and all our other habits into moments to acknowledge, express and experience our KING! This is the ministry of the church, as Christ performs the liturgy of heaven for, in and through us.
As a parent is encouraged to “train up” a child in the way they should go (the Hebrew literally meaning to “give the child a palette and taste for beauty), our rhythms as a believing people should be giving us a palette and taste for the kingdom in the moment-by-moments of our lives.