“I love you, Lord, oh your mercy never fails me” (Goodness of God, Bethel Music)
“I will build my life upon your love” (Build My Life, Pat Barrett)
“Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free” (Living Hope, Phil Wickham)
A brief look at the top ten worship songs on Christian Copyright Licensing International’s list reveals what many of us sing in church today—heartfelt songs to God about how he saved each of us, and how we each resolve to live for him. While there is nothing wrong with such songs, they tend to dwell on our individual salvation experiences and responses. If these are the only songs we sing, we will be missing out on a vital part of God’s redemptive plan—that God has called us to be “a holy nation, people of his own possession” (1 Pet 2:9).
That God calls us primarily as a community is well-established in Scripture. God’s covenant to Abraham involved him as well as his descendants (Gen 17:7); and God’s call on the nation of Israel to be a holy people (Deut 14:2) is also echoed in the New Testament (1 Pet 2:9). Furthermore, our calling as a faith community always has a purpose: we are called, so that all the communities around us will be blessed (Gen 12:2-3); so that we may proclaim the good news of Christ (1 Pet 2:9b).
The communities around us will see God, and thus be blessed, when we love one another (1 Jn 4:12). But how does loving each other look like? Charles Wesley’s hymn, “All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord”, expounds on this. By grace, we are first reconciled to God and to each other. On this basis, we are commanded to build each other up and journey together. Every individual gift is to be lovingly offered to the service of the whole, and unity is preserved through Jesus’ name.
The church today is surrounded by communities, societies, and nations wrecked by division and strife. What a powerful testimony it would be if, in Wesley’s words, “our fellowship below in Jesus be so sweet”!
All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord
Words: Charles Wesley
Music: Joshua & Amelia Loke
All praise to our redeeming Lord,
who joins us by his grace,
and bids us, each to each restored,
together seek his face.
He bids us build each other up;
and gathered into one,
to our high calling’s glorious hope,
we hand in hand go on.
The gift which he on one bestows
we all delight to prove;
the grace through every vessel flows,
in purest streams of love.
Even now we think and speak the same, and cordially agree;
concentered all, through Jesus’ name,
in perfect harmony.
We all partake the joy of one,
the common peace we feel,
a peace to sensual minds unknown,
a joy unspeakable.
And if our fellowship below
in Jesus be so sweet,
What height of rapture shall we know
When round his throne we meet.
Note: This hymn was retuned in 2020 by local composers in the hope that more will sing these texts in churches today.