Our hymns remind us of our calling and missional purpose:
Everyone, Everywhere following Jesus
Frontier mission among every people group. Proclaiming Christ throughout the world. Sometimes I get the impression these are new concepts to Presbyterians! But they're not. Our hymns give abundantly clear and vocal witness to our Presbyterian calling and missional purpose.
Hymns we sing Sunday after Sunday are replete with the Scriptural commission to be witnesses so the whole world might follow Jesus - in short, everyone, everywhere following Jesus.
In today's multicultural, pluralistic world this aim might sound jarring, even offensive. But in most parts of the world, Christianity has never not been a deep challenge to the culture or dominant religion. I would even say we're discovering that following Jesus in our own culture is becoming costlier.
"In the world you face persecution," Jesus says. "But take courage; I have conquered the world!" (John 16.33)
Leading others to follow after Jesus is neither a tame nor non-offensive action. Presbyterian mission leader Rev. Bill Lowrey recently told the Pittsburgh World Mission Initiative conference, "God's mission doesn't change because it's tough for us. We are ambassadors for Christ. The world is on a terminal path; God, however, is on a mission."
The scope of our commission remains, whether easy or difficult: to share the gospel globally until all believe. There's no settling for "some" or "a smattering in scattered places." Our hymns attest that the biblical goal is no lower than for very person and every tribe in every tongue and land to be disciples of Jesus.
Witness these clarion calls for global mission from our Presbyterian Hymnal - with a few comments and implications in brackets:
- Joy to the world, the Lord is come; let earth [everyone] receive her King [Jesus]; Let every heart [everyone, everywhere] prepare Him room [clear out other gods]... He rules the world [all other faiths are insufficient and idolatrous] with truth and grace, and makes the nations [all ethnicities] prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love [ie, Jesus makes clear to all ethnicities/religions the superiority of Christ to any religious construct]. (40: Joy to the world, the Lord is come)
- All creation [every person on earth - and beyond!], join in praising God the Father, Spirit, Son [the Christian triune God found in Christianity and no other religion]. (22: Angels, from the Realms of Glory)
- As stewards of the earth may we give thanks in one accord to God who calls us all [everyone, everywhere] to be Disciples [devoted followers] of the Lord [refering to Jesus Christ]. (434: Today We All Are Called to Be Disciples)
- Let every kindred, every tribe, on this terrestrial ball [everyone, everywhere following Jesus], to Him [Jesus] all majesty [no other god or lord but him] ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all! (143: All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name!)
- At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow [everyone, everywhere following Jesus], every tongue confess Him King of glory now. [Every knee bowing means every person on earth should be led to worship Jesus] (148: At the Name of Jesus)
- Rejoice, the Lord is King [over all]! Your Lord and King adore! ...God's kingdom cannot fail, Christ rules [global sovereignty] o'er earth and heaven. (155: Rejoice the Lord is King)
- From all that dwell below the skies let the Creator's praise arise, let the Redeemer's name [specifically, Jesus'] be sung through every land [geographic], in every tongue [linguistic]. In every land begin the song, to every land the strains belong [ie, the Church deserves to be born in every culture] (229: From All That Dwell Below the Skies)
- O God of every nation, of every race and land [everyone, everywhere following Jesus], redeem the whole creation with your almighty hand...Keep bright in us the vision...when peace on earth shall reign and Christ [no other god or religion] shall rule victorious o'er all the world's domain. (289: O God of Every Nation)
- Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim till all the world [everyone, everywhere] adore His sacred name. (371: Lift High the Cross)
- ...Till all the world [everyone, everywhere] shall learn Thy [Jesus'] love, and follow where Thy feet have trod. (408: Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life)
- Jesus shall reign where'er the sun does its successive journeys run...Let every creature rise and bring honors peculiar [sole Lordship] to our King. (423: Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun)
- My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad [everyone, everywhere] the honors of Thy name. (466: O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing)
- The name all victorious of Jesus extol; His kingdom is glorious, He rules over all. (477: Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim)
- [Jesus] opened the life gate that all may go in. Praise the Lord, let the earth [everyone, everywhere] hear His voice! Come to the Father through Jesus the Son [unique salvation through Christ], and give Him the glory, great things He hath done! (485: To God Be the Glory)
- Let earth's wide circle round [everyone, everywhere] in joyful notes resound: May Jesus Christ be praised! (487: When Morning Guilds the Skies)
- Praise Him all creatures here below [everyone, everywhere following Jesus]; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.[All people are called to praise the Christian trune God] (592: Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow - The Doxology)
To which I say, may we Presbyterians sing The Song!
-- Dave Hackett