Casting crowns

The heart of the gospel is relationship. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. Once we were far off, but now we have been brought near. We have been saved from orphanhood into a family. We are adopted as sons of the King. Jesus is not ashamed to be called our brother.

It is not surprising then that our worship reflects a delight in this relationship: what he has done for us, what he has done in us and what he is doing through us. “You make me brave”, “I am a child of God”, “It is well with my soul”, and of course, “So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss”.

There is however a prior question: who is this one with whom we have a relationship? Who is this one that we are privileged to call Father? Who is the one giving us the sloppy wet kiss? We “know” him, but we don’t know all of him!

Now this is not at all to suggest anything sinister or ulterior. There are no unpleasant surprises awaiting us! No, it is simply to say that God is infinitely more wonderful than our relational experience might tell us. In our humanness we form a picture of God from our limited experience. We have stories of being healed (or not) and answered prayers (or not), of successful ministry (or not) and on this basis we extrapolate out into eternity to build an idea of who God is and what he is capable of doing. Which is an unhelpful way of going about things. How about starting with a revelation of who he is, and reading our personal stories and dealings with him in the light of that revelation?

The apostle John had just such a throne-room encounter. He was presented with an open door of revelation into the heavenly realms. He wrote, as a privileged observer, of elders on thrones, of an emerald rainbow and a sea of glass, of strange living creatures and unending worship of one who sits on the throne. It is definitely a scene of wonder rather than intimacy.

The climax of this scene is the cry of the living creatures, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” At which point the twenty-four elders fall on their faces before “him who is seated on the throne” and cast their crowns before him. This is the transcendent moment. This is the moment of being overwhelmed by wonder.

What God has done for me and in me and through me is wonderful. I am amazing! (In Christ!) But the wonder of that is nothing compared with the wonder of who he is in himself. To paraphrase CS Lewis, it is not about thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less. Worship starts not with self-denial, but self-forgetfulness in the presence of breathtaking awesomeness. I am rightly impressed by what he has done for me. I want to be more impressed just by who he is. I cast my crown before him.

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