April 10, 2009

Jesus paid it all, and thanks for Heaven

Posted in Christian, Christian Music, Christianity, Reform, The Church tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:58 pm by Bryant

Sometimes I wonder about the focus of our worship.  I sit through some churches that sing more about Heaven and about how great it will to be there so we can see all of the people we have lost and can enjoy the reward than the one who made it possible to be in Heaven.  I see people “accept” Jesus as their Lord and Savior because of a sermon that spoke of fear of hell and not fear of God.  Are we that selfish?  Now I know the answer to that is yes, but we eat this stuff up.  I’m not sure if it is wrong to sing about Heaven in and of itself, but everything put ahead of Christ and the holiness of God is an idol, even characteristics of God that are put in front of holiness (see Idol of Love by Greg Pinkner).  I’m just not sure of our motives to have salvation.  I get some of it.  I sure don’t want to go to hell, but I see the reward of Heaven as getting to be able to worship Christ in all his glory without all of the sin that separates me from a pure relationship with Him.  Is that not enough?  Christianity is more than not going to hell; it is pursuing, trying to love, and trying to glorify the One who first loved us.  Obviously Heaven is important as Jesus talks about how he is preparing a place for us, but let’s not lose focus of the Way, the Truth, and the Light.

Heaven-worship sounding music is one of the things I don’t like about much of the music we sing in Church.  There seems to be a break down of honesty in worship music.

Oh worship music.  Hymns or Choruses? Witnessing a church move from hymns to choruses is quite the sight.  I’ve heard it been put as the “Shout to the Lord” stage.  The hymns the churches are moving away from leave much to be desired as well.  C.S. Lewis called them “fifth rate poetry set to sixth rate music.”  If they don’t have sound hymns, then they probably won’t have sound choruses.  Let’s dive in (the links are to the lyrics of the songs mentioned).

Hymns lead to “Shout to the Lord” which leads “Lord I Lift Your Name on High” which leads to “Amazing Love” which leads to (other) Chris Tomlin music, or David Crowder for the more digitally progressive churches.

“Shout to the Lord” provides a pretty sound foundation.  The only lyric I am iffy about it is “All of my days, I want to praise/ the wonders of your mighty love” because that is probably not completely honest because part of God’s love is his discipline and the sinner inside of me is scared of that.  Other than that lyrics such as “forever I’ll love you / forever I’ll stand” are in future tense as noted by the I’ll or I will as in a heavenly sense: when I am with you in heaven, forever I will love you and forever I will stand.  The rest of the song talks of the might of God and aptly glorifies Christ.  I will sing this song without much reservation.  If on the other hand, the “will” is instead talking about I will love you today and everyday of my life, I can not honestly sing this without feeling that I am lying.  I wish that I loved the Lord everyday, but I sin so much in my thoughts and run as far as I can from the One who loves me.  Is this me loving God?

“Lord I Lift Your Name on High” isn’t as strong.  After all, “do I love to sing his praises”?  Maybe.  Probably not all the time.  Am I’m glad He’s in my life? Sometimes.  Have you ever wanted to do something or say something and didn’t because you know you shouldn’t and had a little remorse over that?  I am glad He came to save me, but this isn’t always showed by the way I live my life, so I don’t lift His name on high as I should.  I don’t enjoy singing this song because I can’t sing the words without feeling like I’m lying to God.

“Amazing Love” is so powerful and yet sneaks in some questionable lyrics such as “In all I do, I honor you.”  Everyone loves singing this song at church and I can’t get past this line because it seems so theologically wrong.  In all I do? The Newsboys even changed this line when they covered it in the song “You Are My King” to “In all I do to honor you” and “In all I do, let me honor you”.  The “let me” seems a lot more honest because it appears to be a prayer.   We can pray that God keeps us from sinning and let’s us honor Him.  I’m good with the Newsboys’ take on it.  It’s worth taking a look at the hymn that probably inspired this song, and that is “And Can It Be That I Should Gain” which seems to be a possible source for both “Amazing Love” and “In Christ Alone”.  Rarely is “And Can It Be…” sang in churches outside Presbyterian which is kind of comical since it was written by Charles Wesley, but the doctrine presented in the hymn is sound.

I came across this blog that speaks of the same topic. Click here to read it.

In Christ Alone” will no doubt be a song heard most places this Easter Sunday.  I am happy that I got to see the Getties perform this song that they wrote live for it is a powerful song that celebrates and glorifies Christ.  This song sets the bar for what praise and worship music should do: tell of how Christ has overcome, tell of the promises of God, and bring glory to Him who reigns.  This can be sung without reservation.

Jesus Paid It All” is also a great hymn turned contemporary with the added refrain “oh praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead”.  No qualms here.

I wish we could rely on the word of God as inspiration for worship music.  Let’s sing of his holiness, his might, and his glory.  Let’s leave out what we think we bring to the equation (as found in the song “I Will Not Forget You“).  Because if we really believe that “our sacrifice is not what God can give but what we alone can give to Him”, then we lose focus of our spotless righteousness that is the lamb of God, Christ Jesus.  Happy Easter to you all.


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