If you know me, you know I’m a sports fan. And if you're a sports fan too, you know the excitement of going to a game. Not just any game, but a big game, a home game. A sold-out, every seat filled, season on-the-line kind of game. A game where you’re just one of the many fans supporting the home team. You blend in with the crowd because you all are wearing the same jerseys, the same colors, the same logos. You high-five people you don’t know just because of the colors they are wearing. You chant in unison. You encourage people around you with head nods, fist bumps, and team slogans. You clap and cheer (and sometimes scream) at the same moments. The anticipation and hope for a win brings you together. You’re a part of something that feels bigger. You belong. You know that regardless of the outcome of the game, you’re for the home team. Win or lose, you will not stand alone.
The Super Bowl is one of those kind of games. When your team is in that game you don’t even need to attend (although, how much fun would that be?) to feel the team comradery. Your identity as a fan is enough, regardless of where you are. But this year, my excitement of a Super Bowl team has been overshadowed. God’s been reminding me that my identity as His child brings a unity that far surpasses being a fan.
This week, I had the privilege of worshiping among a large group of people that I did not know, of all ages, from many different places and backgrounds, who were professing Christ as Lord. The worship was simple, authentic, and all about God. It was a beautiful sight to see and sweet sound to hear as people lifted their voices and proclaimed truths, such as “Worthy” and "Holy" to God.
As I reflected, it reminded me a little bit of a “home game”. Not because there were jumbotrons telling us to “Get Loud” or because we were there to be spectators, cheerleaders, or even consumers. Instead, it was that feeling of unity; in this case unity in coming to God as broken sinners, needing a Savior. As different parts of the same body of Christ. Raising hands together. Reaching out and praying for one another. Lifting our voices together to worship the one, true King. From strangers to family. We share a heavenly Father. We share victory and hope through Christ. We share the Holy Spirit living within us. We are part of God’s bigger redemption plan. We are forgiven, saved. We belong to Jesus. Community--worshiping God as one.
Community and worship. As humans, we long for this because we were created for it (Gen. 2:18; 21-25; Psalm 95:6). However, our longing can never be fulfilled if our worship is not to God and our community is not through God. Our faith is the basis for both. The community of believers (both universal and local) is a gift from God.
Experiencing this community from God helps me to grow in my faith. It encourages accountability. It strengthens my worship. It reminds me of how big God is. It teaches me how to serve others. It demonstrates the love and forgiveness of Christ. It displays the gospel and sends it farther. I want to dwell in that state of community and worship, knowing it to be a manifestation of our eternity in the presence of God (Rev. 5:9-13).
Unlike a fan at a game, anticipating the outcome and preparing to celebrate or sulk in unity, our community in Christ already has the victory! We can begin our celebration! We can live in community and worship now as we look towards our hope and future, the kingdom of God. God created us to worship Him in community. Let’s not wait to receive this gift from God in its fullness so that we can give Him all the glory.
"Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, according to Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with one mind and one voice." Romans 15:5-6