One of the things we have come to deeply appreciate since moving to the UK is the way liturgy is incorporated into services and prayer meetings.
It is not dry, dusty, or merely done for tradition or ritual’s sake. It is thoughtfully presented and entered into. It is an opportunity to engage on both a heart and head level with the realities the Church has expressed down through centuries. When not used legalistically, it can be so much more helpful than an extemporaneous jumble of thoughts and words hastily pouring out to fill up space.
Our small group is currently going through Hebrews and as we studied chapter 3, we came across this verse:
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.”
As we began exploring and mining the verse, someone offered up a thought along these lines:
“I like that we are reminded that we are considered holy in Christ. The passage includes warnings about hardening hearts and rebellion and disbelief… but the author starts by reminding them they are now, in Christ, holy.”
We got to talking about how much our approach to God and sin and life and worship services rests on our identity.
Our liturgy can be… should be helpful. It should also not be truncated in its announcement of the Gospel – the Good News.
Yes, it is right to acknowledge that we fail God daily, that we are (as one confession puts it) His “unworthy servants” and as another says, “We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table;” and we should be “truly sorry for all our misdoings”
We are a dreadful, miserable lot – apart from Christ. We do need His mercy
And after we confess, we are verbally reminded of the forgiveness we have in Christ.
This forgiveness is an earth-shattering reality and declaration!
When this pronouncement, this declaration is it joyfully embraced and cherished?
Or is it said with all the gusto of someone saying, “now be grateful, you slug”?
Are we accidentally conveying that this is a weekly duty or routine? That we are locked into a doomed cycle – wash, rinse, repeat?
Perhaps these confessions and assurances were written in a way to guard against prideful boasting? (See Luke 18:9-14)
Reading through the New Testament we read of how extravagant the love of God is toward us through Christ, and our new identity in Him.
Perhaps equally necessary it is to affirm the identity our God says we now have in Christ. We are not merely unworthy worms in his sight.
To be fair, some faith traditions focus so much on this new identity, that any thought of a confessional moment is dismissed, and no opportunity is given to repent (1 John 1:8-9)
But in circles where this is not the case, perhaps in addition to the reminder of sin atoned for we should also affirm these realities as well – truths that remind us who we are now in Christ – truths that call us to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
I am a beloved child of God – Jn. 1:12
I am Christ’s friend – Jn. 15:15
I have been justified – Rom. 5:1
I am washed, sanctified, and justified – 1 Cor 6.11
I am a new creation – 2 Cor 5:17
I am united with the Lord (one spirit) – 1 Cor. 6:17
I am bought with a price; I belong to God. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
I am inscribed on God’s hands – Isa. 49:16
I am a member of Christ’s Body. – 1 Cor. 12:27
I am a saint. – Eph. 1:1
I have been adopted as God’s child – Eph. 1:5
I am an heir of God and co-heir with Christ – Rom. 8:17
I have access to God thru the Holy Spirit. – Eph. 2:18
I will never be left nor forsaken – Heb 13:5
I have been redeemed and forgiven. – Col. 1:14
I have been ransomed – Mark 10:45
I am complete in Christ. – Col. 2:10
I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind – Rom. 12:2
An ambassador for Christ – 2 Cor. 5:20
Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. – Eph 1:3
I am free forever from condemnation. – Rom. 8:1-2
I am assured all things work together for good. – Rom. 8:28
I am free from any charge against me. – Rom. 8:31-34
I cannot be separated from the love of God. – Rom. 8:35-39
I have already passed from death to life – John 5:24
I am established, anointed, sealed by God. – 2 Cor. 1:21-22
I am hidden with Christ in God – Col. 3:3
I am loved with an everlasting love – Jer. 31:3
I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected. – Phil. 1:6
I am a citizen of heaven. – Phil. 3:20
I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. – 2 Tim. 1:7
I can boldly come to God’s throne to find grace and mercy in time of need. – Heb. 4:16
I am born of God; the evil one cannot touch me. – 1 Jn. 5:18
I am the salt and light of the earth. – Matt. 5:13-14
I am secure – Heb. 6:19
I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life. – Jn. 15:1,5
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. – Jn. 15:16
I am God’s temple. – 1 Cor. 3:16
I am a minister of reconciliation for God – 2 Cor 5:17-21
I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9). – 2 Cor. 6:1
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm – Eph. 2:6
I am God’s workmanship. – Eph. 2:10
I am accepted – Rom 14:3
I may approach God with freedom and confidence. – Eph. 3:12
Our liturgy of confession and assurance is precious – but should there be more?
During these times in our services, what then shall we say?
☑️ Repent of our sin
☑️ Recall we have been Redeemed
and yet perhaps we should be…
🤔 Reminded we have been Remade