In our current series, we are talking about what it means to mature in our faith, using some key thoughts from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Last Sunday we talked about growing in our grace-based identity. Paul prays that the believers in Ephesus would be “rooted and established in love” (3:17), an organic image coupled with an architectural image. To be rooted means that our souls are nourished by the rich soil of God’s amazing love. And to be established means that God is the one on whom our identity is based. God is our native soil and proper foundation: in God’s love, we grow and thrive and become.
To be rooted and established makes the most profound difference in how we see ourselves, and how we navigate the challenges of life.
I am standing with 74,000 fans in Seattle listening to U2 sing a hymn. I am not sure how many realize what is going on at that moment, except I wonder if they feel it. My wife once talked to one U2 fan who said that she came out of the experience in tears and didn’t know why. Maybe its because of how surprisingly, in the music, in the veneer of a rock concert, the focus gets subtly shifted somehow: to find yourself, you will need to look away from yourself.
You hear this theme in their song Magnificent:
I was born, I was born to sing for you I didn't have a choice but to lift you up And sing whatever song you wanted me to I give you back my voice from the womb My first cry, it was a joyful noise
Only love, only love can leave such a mark But only love, only love can heal such a scar Justified, till we die you and I will magnify, The Magnificent, magnificent
I am not completely sure what the definition of a hymn is, but I think that might be candidate.
We are made for worship, and that is how we find out who we are. We wake up. We respond to God, becoming ever more grounded in him. We cannot know ourselves through navel gazing, through the unaided inward look; we cannot know ourselves by ourselves. No, we are transformed through worship, through looking away from ourselves to the one who made us, who calls to us, who loves us, who not only gives us birth into his kingdom but then invites us to grow up into our truest identity.
What we need, what we hunger for, is a taste of magnificence -- largeness, transcendence, wonder. The secret of growth, of identity and becoming, is this call to worship. And as we grow, he grows in us and for us.
In book four of CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia tales, Prince Caspian, the children have just returned to Narnia after an absence. But Aslan, the lion and king, is nowhere to be seen. Lucy, the youngest of the children, particularly aches to see him. One night she is awakened to a voice calling her from the forest, so, as the others sleep, Lucy goes into the forest and then into a clearing.
And then -- oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight...
She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment. And the next thing she knew was that she was kissing him and putting her arms as far around his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane...
She gazed up into the large wise face.
“Welcome, child,” he said. “Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.” “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he. “Not because you are?” “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
Worship begins this weekend at 9:29 and 11:11. Think of that moment not simply as our community gathering time, but as our community identity-forming time. As we worship, we see who our God is, and we find ourselves being rooted and established in him.