When I was a child, magnifying glasses fascinated me. With the naked eye, you could see an ant crawling across our deck and think, “Yes, that’s an ant.” But when you take the magnifying glass and put it up near that ant, you noticed that what you thought was a little bug without much to it suddenly turned into a magnificent creature with very detailed features. You see the antennae, the eyes, the head, the thorax, the abdomen, the legs—you become amazed at what this little bug is truly like. And I remember running and telling my mom to come look! I had to show her what I had seen.
Before anything of consequence may happen in a local church or in the life of the Christian for that matter must flow from a Christian’s magnification of Christ alone. Before a church can look inward, outward, or move forward, she must look upward. Notice how the beginning of Scripture begins: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Before we address the nuts and bolts of creation and history and all the warts and wrinkles therein, Scripture directs us upward first. This understanding is critical to everything that our lives entail.
In a culture from the academic elite to the water cooler who hold to the notion that our lives are random with no design, direction, nor purpose behind it all, Scripture begins with the very first verse by saying in essence, “Everything you see? God made it, designed it, purposed it, is directing it. From the molecular to the galactic level, the chance element is absent. And the world craves for this reality, whether they realize it or not.
Our view of God affects everything that we do, everything we say, everything we think. Richard Lints tells us the importance of our theological vision in regards to life and church:
A theological vision allows [people] to see their culture in a way different that they had ever been able to see it before . . . Those who are empowered by the theological vision do not simply stand against the mainstream impulses of the culture but take the initiative both to understand and speak to that culture from the framework of the Scriptures . . . The modern theological vision must seek to bring the entire counsel of God into the world of its time in order that its time might be transformed.
When it comes to our worship times, I think of two verses out of the Psalms. The first is this from Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” This deals with our attitude! For the Christian, an enthusiasm exists in coming before the Lord and before His people. And when we come into this kingdom outpost to worship, much of what we get out of it depends on what we put into it! It is here that we exalt Christ, we encourage others in Christ to exalt Christ in their lives. Here, we learn about the Word of God by the Spirit of God. Everything that takes place in the live of the church does so to make much of the crucified and risen Son! We have His word, His Spirit, His called leaders in the church, His people—and an empty cross and tomb to anchor it all!
Another verse out of the Psalms is that of Psalm 133:1: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.” Unity in what? Some say it’s simply unity in fellowship—in other words, you simply like being around this group of people, and this is the extent of unity. Yet, there is nothing distinctive about this. You can find that type of fellowship at a bar. You can find that at a ball game, where 80,000 people are cheering for a Broncos win! You can find that at a rally of a common cause. But there is more to it: we are unified in the truth! Unified in Christ and what He has revealed in His Word.
Yet, just because we come to a church function or even to our worship gathering here, does not mean we are worshiping! You can be here, but not be here all at the same time. Our body may be occupying space in one of the benches, but our minds and hearts can in a galaxy far, far away.
Psalm 34:3 says:
Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt his name together!
Literally, the Psalmist is saying, “Let’s make the Lord’s name grow and expand in our midst and in the world.” God desired for this attitude and expectation to pervade His people, but His desires did not always manifest themselves—in fact, most of the time they were absent!
The fundamental activity and attitude of the believer and, also, churches is to magnify Christ. Magnifying Christ is to make him bigger in our eyes, to know him better, and to show him more brilliantly to others who need to see him.
Richard Lints, The Fabric of Theology: A Prolegomenon to Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 316-17. Quoted in Timothy Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 18.