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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

A Joyous New Song

Singing to the Lord leads to joy.

Worship and Public Policy (2)

Praise the LORD!
Sing to the L
ORD a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints.
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Psalm 149.1, 2

A new song
In the Scriptures, the life of faith is often expressed or summed-up as a song. When Israel was delivered from slavery in Egypt, Miriam led the people in a song of joyous redemption, to sum-up and celebrate the new lives of freedom they were beginning to enjoy (Ex. 15).

As Moses prepared the people of Israel to enter the land of promise, he was instructed by God to compose a song, to help the people remember His grace, so that they would remain faithful to Him generation after generation (Deut. 32). The book of Psalms contains many songs—like Psalm 149—which are given to aid the people of God in expressing their gratitude toward and love for Him with sweet melodies and moving rhythms.

The song of faith is a new song. It is a song of freedom from sin, judgment, and death; a song of hope and conviction focused on Jesus and His salvation. It is a song of witness, resolve, dedication, and daily rejoicing in the Presence and power of our living Lord.

So great, so new and different is the song of Christian faith, that God’s people are commanded, over and over, to sing this new song joyously. We are even told that one of the indications of the filling of God’s Spirit is that we sing new songs of faith to one another, and thus encourage one another in our experience of God’s grace (Eph. 5.18-21).

A joyous song

Ours is a joyous song which celebrates a joy-filled life. Joy is the manifestation of the indwelling Spirit of God (Gal. 5.22, 23), the consequence of living in the righteousness and peace of God’s Kingdom (Rom. 14.17, 18), and the realization, in every area of our lives, that Jesus’ Word is reliable, sure, and true (Jn. 15.11). The joy we have as Christians is, on the one hand, completely detached from the circumstances of our everyday lives, because it is grounded in eternal and unchanging verities and the precious and very great promises of God (Hab. 3.17-19).

On the other hand, the joy we have in living “under the heavens” rather than merely “under the sun” spreads into, transforms, and comes to expression in all we are, think, say, and do. The joy we know is grounded in the hope we cling to because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And that hope and joy become visible in every aspect of our lives, and can cause others to wonder and even inquire about what makes us different from other people (1 Pet. 3.15).

Our joyous new song is both a personal testimony and a communal experience. Each believer knows the joy of the Lord, radiant in Jesus’ face, because of the gift of salvation we have graciously received. At the same time, the joy we know in our salvation is a shared joy. We have many brothers and sisters and fellow citizens who experience as we do the joy of salvation, and who strengthen that joy in us by their own witness and testimony.

Such joy cannot be contained. It must be sung, shouted, and shared, for it shapes and strengthens every aspect of our lives in the world.

The focus of worship
We worship God because we have joy in Him. He is our joy. His salvation gives us joy. Christians gather week by week to join their voices in joyful adoration, praise, and thanksgiving to Him Who gives them joy at all times, in every season, regardless of the circumstances and conditions of their lives.

Christians also rejoice in their salvation day by day. We begin our day with worship, seeking the Lord and His joy for whatever lies ahead of us in the coming day. And we conclude our day with joy, as we take our rest in the Lord, secure in the strength of His saving grace and the unchanging reliability of His Word.

It only makes sense, therefore, that focused on the source of our joy—our exalted Lord Jesus Christ—the joy we know in Him will come to expression in how we live in every area of life. We not only seek the joy of the Lord, but we seek to be joy-bringers to our world. The message of the Gospel, which speaks to all areas of life, is a message of joy.

Christians can take the joy they have in Jesus into their work. They rejoice in their spouses and families, in the beauty of creation and the delights of culture, all of these good gifts and expressions of God’s grace. Christians rejoice in each day’s provision, and for good health, safety, friendship, and a multitude of daily blessings and delights. Joy is thus a primary attribute of all who truly know the Lord Jesus Christ, and such joy cannot be restricted to personal devotions, Lord’s Day worship, or any supposed realm of merely spiritual experience. The joy we know and sing must spill out into and shape our approach to every area of our lives.

This includes our participation in matters of public policy. For the Christian, the public square is but one more arena where God intends to raise a banner for His joy, by employing the people who know His joy to announce and embody it to the world, including within the framework of public policy. We do not set aside our faith as we become engaged in matters of the public interest.

And therefore we do not set aside our joy, either; rather, as the joy of the Lord informs and shapes all other aspects of our lives, so it must in the arena of public policy. The joy of the Lord, which is continuously renewed in worship, goes with us into all we do, including the work of shaping public policy.

For reflection
1.  What is joy? What’s the difference between joy and happiness? Which should we seek?

2.  Meditate on Psalm 16.11 and Romans 14.17, 18. Why is joy associated so closely with the Lord and His Kingdom?

3.  If we wish to spread the joy of the Lord among our neighbors, can we do so apart from Jesus and His Kingdom? What are the implications of this for our role in matters of public policy?

Next steps—Conversation: How do you experience the joy of your salvation? How do you express that joy? Talk with a Christian friend about these questions.

T. M. Moore
Our bookstore offers three resources to help you grow in knowledge of, love for, and obedience to the Law of God. Please check out The Law of God (click here), The Ground for Christian Ethics (click here), and A Kingdom Catechism (click here). The Law of God arranges all the statutes and commandments of God under one or another of the Ten Commandments. It can be a useful guide for reflection as part of your daily time with the Lord. For The Ground for Christian Ethics and A Kingdom Catechism, read the table of contents and listen to the audio excerpts to learn more about each book.

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ReVision comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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