Worship and Public Policy (5)
Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand… Psalm 149.5, 6
We said that one of the purposes of worship is to prepare the saints of the Lord to live out the joy of their salvation – the song of their Creator/King – in every area of their lives. But how are we prepared? What happens in us during worship, and what are we given that enables us to fulfill this high and sacred calling?
Our psalm explains: As we enter into the presence of the Lord in worship, exulting in glory, we encounter the living God as more than just an idea or a far off, otherworldly Being. We encounter Him as a livingand present Being, the Creator and King of the universe, and we know His presence and power, penetrating to the depths of our souls and lifting us above our merely mundane experience into an unseen realm of glory that causes us to exult.
In worship, rightly conceived and conducted, our minds and imaginations expand beyond their everyday thoughts and dreams, stretched and molded to fill up with the glory of the heavenly throne room, to be conformed to the mind of Christ, and to see the world as He does (1 Cor. 2.16).
In such worship, our hearts are flooded with the living water of Christ’s Spirit (Jn. 7.37-39), Who gives us a new heart, a malleable, spiritual heart, which is capable of affections of joy and exultation empowering us in ways more than we’ve ever dared to ask or think (Ezek. 36.26, 27; Eph. 3.20).
Our values and priorities are adjusted and confirmed, so that the set of our wills becomes something like, “Whatever my Creator and King requires of me, I will gladly and unhesitatingly do!” (Ex. 19.7, 8)
So that in worship, our souls are transformed and we exult to know and magnify the Lord, to be transformed in soul and life, and to be sent by Him into the everyday circumstances and vocations of our lives (Jn. 20.21).
Prepared with what?
In that state of transformation and exulting, we are given a “two-edged sword.” In ancient Israel the armies of the Lord worshiped before they went into battle, because they understood that they needed the Lord and His strength for their sortie into the “public square.” So they worshiped, then they took their swords in hand to do battle with their enemies.
In our day the Church does not bear the sword of warfare, but the sword of the Spirit. The Word of God is able to equip us for every good work, in every area of life, for all aspects of culture, society, and life. This includes whatever may be required of us in the arena of public policy (Heb. 4.12; 2 Tim. 3.15-17). Whether our calling is to talk about public matters, support or elect candidates, or augur for policies more in line with the good and perfect will of God, the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are able to equip us for such good works, and to arm us for whatever conflict we may face.
Doing battle in the public square
These days Christians seem to have little stomach for battling in the public square over matters of public policy. We look for candidates we think we can support and policies we think should change, but as for the daily skirmishes of word and deed where public policy battles are won or lost, we tend to leave that to the professionals.
But, whether we choose to do so or not, we are participating in public policy, even if we only stand on the sidelines. All Americans, being members of “We the People,” have an interest and stake in public policy, and can play important roles in shaping the moral, social, and cultural climate of our country.
Christians and all citizens of this republic participate in public policy in three ways. First, through everyday conversations. People talk about matters of public policy all the time, usually to complain or lament some position or action recently taken by one or another branch of government. Armed with the sword of the Spirit and adorned with the grace of salvation, Christians can talk about public policy in such a way as to inform and persuade others concerning how our government can fulfill its God-given mandate as a servant for good (Rom. 13.1-4).
Second, Christians can engage matters of public policy through publication – by responding to articles on the web, blogging on a website, writing letters to the editor, even producing materials for use in their Bible study groups. By putting our views into writing we both clarify and firm them in our souls, and explain them to any who may read.
Finally, Christians can be active in public policy by participating in formal ways – voting, helping with a campaign, signing or circulating petitions, volunteering to serve a public official, standing for public office, attending meetings of councils, school boards, and the like.
Imagine how public policy in America might be shaped if Christians, exulting in the glory of God, adorned with the grace of salvation, and armed with well-honed words from God, were consistently and in a well-coordinated manner to become active in all these levels of public policy. As we shall see, the effects of such well-prepared engagement can be amazing.
Such preparation for wielding the Sword of the Spirit must begin in worship.
1. Should we expect the King and Lord to Whom we come in worship to be interested in matters of public policy? Explain.
2. Is working in the public policy arena a good work? If so, how does Scripture apply in preparing us for it (2 Tim. 3.15-17)? How can worship help to tune our souls for such a calling?
3. Meditate on Psalm 45.3-5. What does Jesus wield as He goes forth conquering and to conquer (cf. Rev. 6.1, 2)? Should we wield anything else?
Next steps – Preparation, Conversation: Should you become more involved in matters of public policy? How can worship help to equip you for this duty? Talk with some other believers about these questions.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.