One of the best-selling Christian books this year was Letters to the Church by Francis Chan. In it, he reminds readers of how powerful and glorious the Church once was—and calls us to once again be the Church God intended us to be.
In this excerpt, Chan gently challenges our displaced focus on self and redirects it to someone, and something, far greater.
A Small Piece of Heaven
You are a part of something much bigger than yourself, something sacred. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, you have been joined to his Church. Because of this, you are not only a part of God’s sacred temple but also apart of the heavenly community. This is huge!
Take some time to read Revelation 4–5 as it describes the scene in heaven. This section begins with a majestic picture of God on His throne. The scene is busy and intense: the four living creatures are declaring his holiness, the seven spirits of God are blazing, myriads of angels are praising Jesus with loud voices, and the twenty-four elders are flat on their faces while laying their crowns before him. Then in 5:8, we finally appear.
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
— Revelation 5:8
There you are! Did you see it? Those are your prayers in the bowl of incense! Isn’t that awesome? We get to be part of this unbelievable scene!
Maybe you feel a bit insulted by this. You’re thinking, That’s it? My only part is that my prayers are lumped in with the prayers of all other believers to form a bowl of incense? Don’t worry—you’re also mentioned in verse 13 when your voice joins the chorus of billions.
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
— Revelation 5:13
What is a tremendous, unspeakable honor may feel insufficient for those who are used to being god of their own blogs and Twitter accounts. It feels insignificant to those who have erected their own shrines on Facebook and Instagram, filled with beautiful pictures of themselves.
Herein lies the danger of clamoring for attention: we don’t realize that true joy comes from the opposite. Joy comes as we stand among those Jesus has redeemed and get lost in a sea of worship, becoming fully a part of something sacred.
Gathering with the Church should lead us to holy ground. You get to come and worship Someone else, with someone else. You get to pour out love to him by serving those around you and considering them more important than yourself. It’s not about you. And you are glad it’s not about you. Because this is something far greater than you. It is sacred.1
Sit with Pastor Francis Chan and be reminded that you are a part of something much bigger than yourself.
Pick up your copy of Letters to the Church, now on sale through Faithlife Ebooks.