We've been going through Revelation at church lately, and last week we were in chapter 7, where John speaks of the "great multitude that no one could number" standing before the throne of God.
I tend to think of this multitude as a homogenous, unified mass, rather like a picture of a crowd of people in a children's picture book. The first few rows of people may have some distinguishable features, but for the most part the crowd consists of a sea of uniform white ovals-- the merest suggestion of individual people.
In some sense this is true; God's people will be fully united on that day. We share a common identity, a common salvation, and, more importantly, a common Savior. "There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)
In another sense, however, it is not true at all. I had never thought about this until this sermon, but when John looked at this multitude, he didn't see a shapeless mass.
John saw faces.
He was looking at the full number of God's redeemed-- all those whom God would save throughout all of history-- a staggering number of individuals, each one with his own unique story, experiences, and place in God's purposes on this earth.
The question, then, which we must all ask is this: Was my face in the multitude that John saw?
How do we know? John is given the answer in verse 14: "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."