How can you improve a choir? There are two ways:
- Help one of the singers who is already in the choir.
- Add new singers.
We just celebrated 10 years of service in Africa, and I mentioned that I’d be sharing verses that have kept us persevering in spite of trials and slow growth. Revelation 5:9-10 tops the inspiration list.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
John Sees Heaven
Imagine this picture with me (or with John). John, overwhelmed with a vision of a beautiful, glittering heaven, records details in rapid-fire succession. So much grabs his eye that no one thing occupies too much space in chapters 4-5 (which form a complete unit). But the first thing that catches his eye is a throne and the One who sits on it.
He describes a heavenly scene using at least 12 different colors, sounds, and symbols. Some colors he describes with the word “like,” implying that perhaps the actual colors are far more beautiful–like C.S. Lewis describing in The Last Battle how the fruit in Aslan’s world were like strawberries, but SO much better.
Then chapter five changes focal points: the Lamb is introduced. There are no “minor” issues here–this is Christ and God. With this as the scenery, another sense takes over–John hears singing.
John Hears Heaven
Examine this song of praise to Jesus with me for a moment.
- It is emotional. (The Christian life demands passion!)
- It is artistic. (Cathedral-builders in the medieval ages set figurines in stained glass high up in corners of the ceiling where no one could see. Why? “This art is for God.”)
- It is doctrinal (covering the sovereignty of Christ, the atonement, redemption, the kingdom of God, and focuses on Christ, rather than secondary issues)
Okay, so John sees amazing sights and hears an even more wonderful song; but even more encouraging for us is the identification of who he sees and hears!
Who is singing? Who is the “they”?
In verse 8, it’s the 24 “elders.” These singers are identified by their relationship to Christ. In verse 10, the singers are the “kings and priests of God on earth.” In verse 9, it’s “those who were redeemed”–all Christians from all time, “out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation.”
Ethonologue catalogued 6,495 living languages as of 2005.
The Joshua Project catalogues 15, 967 ethnic groups.
The largest people group is Mandarin Chinese with 793,000,ooo speakers. India has the most amount of people groups with 2, 327. (350 languages) One people group in India (the Nai) has 70 alternate names.
Let’s go back to the beginning of the church in Acts. In Acts we read about 3,000 saved on the Day of Pentecost, and at another time, 5,000; then it says “many” people were added the church “daily.” Let’s put that number at about 50,000 people. An average-ly large stadium today could hold that many people.
So imagine a football stadium full of people looking down on the field. One Man walks to the center, and the entire stadium rises to its feet and begins a glorious song of praise to that Man.
But there’s more. From 100-300 A.D. we see clear evidence that Christians were affecting their society. Joshua Project gives a statistic that at least 2% of a people group is needed before it can impact its society. So if a group wants to advocate for the spotted owls of North America, there must be at least 2% of Americans advocating that cause to impact all of America on that issue. If this statistic is correct, then there were at least 200,000 Christians during the early church time period. (And when you think of Constantine converting his entire army to Christianity at the end of this time period, it seems that there must have been more than just 2%.) = 4 stadiums
57 revivals are recorded by Brian Edwards in Revival. In some of those revivals tens of thousands were converted. = 2 stadiums
Today 400 million people claim to be Protestant. If we assume that only 20% of them are actually born again, we have 80 million people. = 1,600 stadiums
Then we could talk about Old Testament believers or children who died before the age of accountability.
- Trust that God is working all things to produce this choir, for the good of this choir–the good and the bad things, the large and small things; that car accident that killed our only male church member, that man who shockingly fell out of the ministry; even Robert Mugabe’s crazy leadership in Zimbabwe. He will build this choir, and it will include people from the people group to whom you are ministering!
- What are you doing to add new singers? When you stand at that final day, the only thing that will matter is Christ and His glory!
When I think about being a member of that choir made up of hundreds of millions of people, and I picture singing a song to Christ with my dearly beloved family members to my left, and my dearly beloved Tsonga church members to my right dressed up in national dress carrying their flag all to the glory of God…it shakes me back to the reality that the only thing that matters for me right now is what I’m doing to build that choir!
At that time, I won’t think about the yard sales I couldn’t go to in America because I was across the ocean. I won’t remember the slights and accusations others slung our way, whether deserved or undeserved. I won’t think about which singer brought the most other singers to the choir. I will think about Christ and what He did. And I will probably regret that more beloved Tsonga people did not become a part of this beautiful moment.
Are you leading anyone to “try out” for this choir? What are you doing to add new singers? What are you doing to help anyone to improve their voice for this choir? Let’s get involved working for the grandest event in all of history–building the choir that will sing to the praise of His glorious grace. And never give up working for this!