by Andy Hammond, Pastor of Worship & Media
The songs we sing in corporate worship are integral to the teaching of our faith. What we sing, we remember. Our church has embraced the music of Keith and Kristyn Getty as a source of Christ-centered doctrine and beautiful, singable melodies (In Christ Alone, The Power of the Cross, He Will Hold Me Fast, and Behold the Lamb to name a few).
The next congregational song we'll be learning together is another hymn by the Gettys with a chorus written by Chris Tomlin, called O Church Arise (Arise, Shine). Take a listen below (the lyrics can be found here).
I'm excited that we'll be adding this song to our church's congregational worship, and I have a feeling we'll be singing it for years to come. It has a solid melody in a singable range (with a few tricks and turns here and there), and a text that reminds us of some important things.
Here are four reasons "O Church Arise (Arise, Shine)" is next on our church's list of songs to learn:
1.) The call to follow Christ is a call to war.
"O church, arise, and put your armor on;
Hear the call of Christ our captain."
Everyday life is a whirlwind. You've got to pay bills, get the kids to soccer practice, meet a deadline at the office, and find time to figure out what's making that noise in your car. Corporate worship should be a weekly reminder to us that there is something going on beyond our individual whirlwinds: an epic war against temptation, deceit, forces of darkness, and Satan himself. It's a war for your worship, and it's been going on since Genesis 3.
As those saved by Jesus Christ, we enter into that war every single morning when we open our eyes. So put on the full armor of God, stand firm in the truth of God's Word, and serve the King in the strength only He can provide.
2.) Christian faithfulness means loving those far from Christ.
"Our call to war, to love the captive soul,
But to rage against the captor."
Scripture is clear that our struggle is not against "against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
As we fight against Satan and the forces of darkness, may our hearts break for the captive souls: those who are "dead in their trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), as we once were. May we faithfully wield the sword of His Word, reach out in love, and, by His grace, see them turn from their sin and embrace Christ as Lord.
We always need to make sure we remember who our real enemy is. It's not the unbelievers in our world, but the evil one who is deceiving them.
3.) In Christ, we are already victorious.
"Then see His foes lie crushed beneath His feet,
For the Conqueror has risen!"
By Christ's death and victorious resurrection, God "disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by [Jesus]" (Colossians 2:15). Though God's people continue to struggle in this life against our old sinful natures and the evil one, we stand justified before God by virtue of Christ's righteousness. As Clinton Arnold points out, Satan and his demonic forces "have been stripped of their power to accuse Christians before God."
It can be all too easy to take a defeatist approach when we fall back into sinful habits or see our culture openly mock us for our faith. But instead of hanging our heads, we should rejoice in God, who "gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57). Indeed, "we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).
4.) We are in this together.
"As saints of old still line the way,
Retelling triumphs of His grace."
This song helps keep our focus on us, not me. God never intended His people to walk this life alone; that's why He gave us the local church. We gather in His Name on Sundays to worship, grow in our faith, and draw encouragement from each other. We need more songs that remind us that our corporate worship is not just a private experience between me and God, but a horizontal dialogue with a church family that we are called to serve by "addressing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Ephesians 5:19).
One way Satan tries to make us ineffective as Christians is to keep us from the body of Christ and cause us to forget that ours is a faith passed down by generations of faithful men and women who have experienced the grace of God and can testify to His goodness. We don't run this race alone. Our brothers and sisters in Christ spur us on, and the Spirit puts "strength in every stride."
So follower of Christ, put on the full armor of God and go to war today. We stand forgiven before a holy God in the victory of our Savior Jesus Christ. The enemy's defeat has been declared. We await a coming King, and through His Spirit, we have been given all that we need.
Stand with strength and valor, and proclaim (sing!) the glories of our matchless Savior.
Arise, shine, for your light has come!
Arise, shine for the Risen Son!
Lift your eyes, we are His radiant bride,
Arise, o church, arise!