I wrote last week about Stephen Miller and his recent album release. He tweeted this out yesterday as an encouragement to lead into the next week.
Sounds like actionable wisdom.
There’s a song I really love to sing and play. This last week, we played I Am They’s “From the Day.” This week finds us featuring an opening song “More Than Conquerors” by Rend Collective. It’s a fantastic left and right of a description of the person of Jesus Christ, “You are the fire that cannot be tamed. You are the power in our veins, our Lord, our God, our conqueror!”
The sourcing of the song is from Romans 8:37, which states, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (ESV). If you expand your read around that verse, you see it in the context of God justifying those upon whom salvation falls. It is one of the breathless moments in scripture where Paul’s lack of desire to punctuate is easier to palate.
Directly after stating that we are more than conquerors, Paul asserts “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor death, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of god in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39).
Why do we focus on who God is? Because He is the most interesting person in the room! If we focus on ourselves, we find neat stuff, but the person of Christ is so compelling that He defines us along the way! He defines us more potently than if we solely focused on defining ourselves.
We are conquerors because He loves us with a love that requires six commas to scratch the surface of describing.
Speaking of describing…
I once listened to a song that suggested that a lifetime spent trying to describe God in poetic form and creative means would not be a wasted life.
“Indescribable” from Chris Tomlin borrows heavily from the awe filled (and perhaps awful in the moment) conversation between God and Job when God told him to put his man pants on because he was going to have a grown up conversation with him. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding?”
And it’s not a wasted read to hear a booming voice of God proclaim His majestic accomplishment in creation. In “Indescribable” a song that correctly claims in its title that God cannot be summed up with any effort of words and yet expends itself in a worthy word fest to beautifully capture glimpses of God’s goodness, we see the creative force of God, His righteousness, and His desire to love us.
“Incomparable, unchangeable, You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same.”
Again, we come to the facet of God’s truth and power that blows us out of the water the most: His love. He loves powerfully from His power into lives that do not deserve it. And most unlikely of all is that He calls us to carry His name. When we read “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain,” we must attend to the fact that there is a definite qualifier on that command. “In vain.” What that leaves is that we take God’s name with respect, humility, and purpose. We carry His name like a vehicle full of nuclear material. He has the power to do great and wondrous works. We must be responsible.
“All hail the power of Jesus name, let angels prostrate fall!” We are stating that at the power of the name of God, angels, powerful and fearful creations of God, upon whose arrival mortal men hit their noses on the ground in terror, themselves are bowed in honor and respect.
But it’s not His name that caused dead men to rise or the blind to see. It wasn’t Jeshua, a common name going back to the pre-conquest days of Joshua, the rescuer of his people, that made the storm sit, stay, and lie down. It wasn’t any arrangement of letters spoken like an incantation that made the water look at its creator and blush into wine.
It was His nature. And it is in that nature that we are secure and speak His name in power.
As we call upon that name, we invite Him into our spaces, knowing, as David proclaimed, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” (Psalm 139:1 ESV). When we ask Him to know us, to experience us, to accept our submission of full transparency, it might just be me, but I’m not bringing Him perfection. I’m not even bringing Him a little perfection.
But as Ben’s been talking about, I want to want to be perfect in the moments when I have really lost my understanding of magnetic north.
What we proclaim in this is that we need Him in order for the moment to matter. It’s a hard thing to admit our inadequacy, but it is easy to do when you understand how good He is.
The very gentle song from Elevation, “Here Again” is a simple invocation, asking for God’s presence in a moment. We talked at some length last week and Ben talked about it during his sermon yesterday that our faith is born somewhere where we dawn upon our extraordinary need simultaneously with His great power. Faith believes as much as it needs.
I look forward to this week once again because we gather to surrender and then equip to see the world similarly surrender to love. Come join us this Sunday. We’re ready to have you come visit, come back after being away, or come one more week out of the hundreds you have faithfully set aside to be here.