Whether worship is individual, collective, or in our GCI Worship Calendar, it’s all focused on one thing—Jesus.
By Hector Barrero, Pastor Bogota, Columbia
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” Col 3:16-17.
The apostle Paul wrote to believers in Colossae to respond to the many heresies the church members were exposed to at that time. Paul does not describe in detail what those heresies were because he is focused on telling the church how to protect themselves from so many false teachings: to keep the centrality of Jesus in all of their Scripture reading, praising, and teaching. Notice some highlights of Colossians:
- Christ is our sure hope in heaven. (Colossians 1:5)
- Through Christ, we’ve been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into his kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:13)
- In Christ we are forgiven and redeemed. (Colossians 1:14)
- Christ is the Creator of everything that exists. He is the perfect image of the Father. In Christ, everything was reconciled to the Father. (Colossians 1:15)
- Christ is before all things, and holds everything together. (Colossians 1:17)
- Christ is all and is in all. (Colossians 3:11)
The church is united in Christ because he is our Savior and the church is his body. The church is to focus on the above truths and not on any other thing or idea. The best way to protect us from heresies is to keep Jesus in the center of our teachings and practices.
This is the foundation of our personal and congregational worship and the GCI Worship Calendar. Christ is the center of the center—nothing changes that. We can’t make him the center because he already is. We can, however, continually make sure our worship and our worship calendar is centered on nothing but Jesus. Every worship day is centered on Jesus—his birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension and return. We can also focus ourselves on him—thus acknowledging that he is the true center of our individual and corporate lives.
We come together at our worship services to talk about all that Jesus is, all he did, and all he is doing for us. Children’s Bible lessons, youth Bible lessons, the sermon, everything that happens at church is centered in him. That is why the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) is helpful. Every week it brings teaching based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
As disciples in whom Jesus dwells, it is our desire to be living testimonies of him. It is our desire that all we have studied and learned about Jesus is shown in the way we speak, teach, and treat people around us. By edifying and loving each other, we are applying the teachings of Jesus—practicing them. Further, we seek to live our lives outside the church in a way that reflects the message of Christ. We are, after all, Christ’s ambassadors.
Sounds like quite a challenge. But here’s the good news: Jesus helps us with his Spirit in us. Our personal testimony shares that any good others see is the result of knowing him personally, of being in a close relationship with him.
So let’s get practical. How do we see Jesus as the center of our personal lives?
- Spend time with him. Walk with him, allow him to do his works in us. The more we study Jesus and understand his teaching, the more we know how to live as he did. And as we understand more about who he is, our response is to worship him and praise him
- Make sure our worship music—the lyrics especially—exalt Jesus. Many worship songs are about us and who we are, and not about Jesus and joining in his worship of the Father. There are times to sing about our relationship with him, but the bulk of our worship should be to him rather than about him.
- Celebrate and commemorate days associated with his birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension. Make these days worshipful and meaningful. Put aside any “holy” days that are not focused on Jesus.
Let’s close with another verse from Colossians:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)
Whether worship is individual, collective, or in the GCI Worship Calendar, it’s all focused on the centrality of Jesus—his birth, life (mission and ministry), death, resurrection, ascension, and return.