Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67:4-5)
I’ll go ahead and admit it, I am sometimes scared of the future. And, if I had to guess, I’d say you are, too. So let’s just put all this on the table and say from the outset that we are fearful people. We are anxious, panicky, and restless because we want to be in control. Fear often hijacks our thought life and steals our sleep. We’ve all stayed awake at night, obsessing over our worst case scenarios: What if my kids don’t end up following Jesus? What if the cancer returns? What if he breaks up with me? What if… what if… what if.
But Psalm 67 gives us a better what-if. What if God’s global purpose has the capacity to banish all fear from our hearts and minds? I believe God is inviting us to see the bigger picture; namely that there is a King in the heavens, whose lordship will unleash the joy that the whole world is longing for. When we see Him for all that He is, fear doesn’t stand a chance.
Not a Square Inch, Nor One Hair
When the joy of the Lord lands on us as it should, we begin to worship with our eyes wide open and fear is banished from the equation. Why? Because we worship the God who “judges the peoples with equity” and who “guides the nations upon earth.” Another way we might say it is that He has all authority, reigning over all peoples, places, times, and events. Or as politician and theologian Andrew Kuyper once put it, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'”
Every square inch. Let that sink in long enough for your heart to grasp the supremacy of Christ’s authority. Does it matter for your daily life? Does it make a difference in the way you look at the future? On those sleepless nights, does it impact the condition of that worrisome heart of yours? It should, because God’s reign over all things is not an abstract idea. It isn’t a nice thought that produces vague sentimentality, yet has no real significance for you. Rather, “not one square inch” means that God is present, active, and involved in the minutia of your life. The King who judges and reigns knows you, and He saves you to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). He is just, loving, and wise in all His dealings with you. Just consider these words from the Heidelberg Catechism:
Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?
A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
That’s right, because of the Gospel, not one hair can fall from your head, except that which will bring to completion the work that Jesus has begun in you (Phil 1:6). There isn’t a moment of your life that God isn’t using for your good and His glory. When you belong to Him, nothing is wasted. And it’s only when we come alive to such implications that we find the freedom to leave behind all the worries that hamstring our joyful witness for Christ. Knowing–and I mean, really knowing–that Jesus reigns victoriously over all things makes us brave enough to parade our joy in front of a watching world. It’s no surprise that the most legendary missionaries in church history are the ones who radically trusted God, because they understood that all things–their own lives not withstanding–worked together for a global purpose that cannot fail.
Let the Nations Be Glad
Therefore, “let the nations be glad” is the heart-cry of a fearless church, spreading Gospel gladness like a contagion and inspiring songs of praise on the lips of those who, like us, were once far from Christ, but have been brought near by His shed blood. And the Lord’s Day orients us afresh to such joy. It is an atmosphere of missionary impulse, re-locating us smack-dab in the middle of the reality that Psalm 67 sets before us.
When people from all walks of life gather under the all-encompassing authority of Christ, it prefigures the future reality of the world being fully established under His reign. On that day when Christ returns, He will gather all peoples to joyfully sing, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:10) That’s the reality we look should toward to as we assemble in the present. Is that the future you’re imagining? Does it thrill you enough to make you fearless?
Make no mistake, Sunday matters. It matters for all of us. It matters for the things that keep us up at night. Why? Because it confronts our fear with the God of all authority carrying out His purpose for the nations. So much of the time, we are ruled by what we’re afraid of, but the Lord’s Day sobers us up long enough to realize that there is only one Ruler. And His Name is above every other. At His throne, every knee will hit the ground, every voice will confess, and the whole world will finally come to its senses, recognizing that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11). So what was it that you were afraid of again?
Liturgy for Sunday, April 26, 2015:
Call to Worship:
Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! (Psalm 98:1-2, 4)
Confession & Assurance:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace! (Psalm 29:11)
You can also follow the Spotify playlist for this Sunday.