May 30, 2007

God's Vision for His Church

Revelation 7:9-12

There before me was a great multitude ... from every nation ... people and language ... Rev. 7:9


In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Christian Reformed Church, an artist was commissioned to make a painting reflecting the denomination's history. The painting consists of 150 faces of people who have had an impact on the church throughout the years. They are pictured behind a communion table with 12 communion cups, symbolizing the 12 apostles, and an open Bible, pointing to the importance of God's Word.

That painting reflects God's vision for his church. God wants the church to be a place where the faces at the table are continually multiplying, where people from different ethnic backgrounds, who speak different languages, who appreciate different worship styles can come together and use their gifts in many ways.

The painting also gives us a tiny glimpse of John?s vision recorded in Revelation 7:9, in which "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language," stands before God's throne. That's the vision God has for his church.

The church today must pull out all the stops and do everything possible to live into that vision. We must become more and more inclusive by inviting people from different backgrounds to join us, and we must allow all people to use their gifts according to the way God has gifted them.

Lord, help us to grow more and more into the vision you have for your church. Show us how we can welcome and include all who want to serve you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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