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Collective Heart, Collective Soul

Collective Heart, Collective Soul

The sermon on church on Sunday was on Psalm 33. While our pastor was working his way through the psalm I was drawn to how it concludes:

    [20] Our soul waits for the LORD;

        he is our help and our shield.

    [21] For our heart is glad in him,

        because we trust in his holy name.

    [22] Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,

        even as we hope in you.

(Psalm 33:20-22 ESV)

In these three verses we are presented with a breath of fresh air to our individualistic culture. The south winds if you will.

One of the woeful consequences of an individualized “Christianity” (which is a contradiction Biblically speaking) is that one completely misses the power & fortitude of this collective “heart” & “soul” that the psalmist speaks of. Here, the reader is almost given the sense that the psalmist has joyfully transcended himself into the collective heart of the people of God. Here’s what John Calvin has to say concerning verse 20:

In this matter, the Psalmist declares nothing concerning himself in particular, but unites the whole of the godly with him in the acknowledgement of the same faith. There is an emphasis in the word soul which should be attended to; for, although this is a common mode of speech among the Hebrews, yet it expresses earnest affection; as if believers should say, We sincerely rely upon God with our whole heart, accounting him our shield and help.

Calvin hits on the chord that the psalmist does when he sees the importance of connecting the individual with the corporate.

This is something I’ve been trying to hit over and over on my liturgy series. The corporate practices of the people of God have a profound affect in shaping the body of Christ, including it’s individual members. It is a crying shame that many American church goers bounce from church to church continually asking themselves “What did I get out of that?”

While asking yourself such a question isn’t inherently a bad thing. In fact, looking back over your previous week and seeing how the applications of the sermon may or may not have applied to your life can be a very helpful thing.

However, to reduce the gathering of God’s elect to worship the triune God to merely a time of self-help is a great tragedy. When the people of God gather to worship they are doing much more than simply edifying their individual relationships with Jesus. Douglas Wilson said somewhere that the church has a retractable roof like an NFL football stadium & whenever the people of God gather to worship they are raised into the heavenlies to join in the celestial worship (Rev. 4).

When we gather to worship it is our collective heart collective soul that is called out by God and that we offer to God in our worship. When this is done powers & principalities are thrown down & the kingdom of God is advanced. We must never forget, the God of Light inhabits the praises of His people. When we gather to worship God collectively then we are swept up into God’s glorious cherubimic throne that Ezekiel saw. When we gather to worship the glory cloud descends as it did in the Tabernacle & the Temple. When we gather to worship we do not come to a mountain that can be touched as the people of Israel did (Sinai). No, we come to mount Zion & approach the God who has determined to shake all things that can be shaken (Heb.12).

Food for thought.

Michael

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