Thursday, August 23, 2018

Why do we ask Christians to sing songs that are not for all Christians for all time?

My post is visceral. I should probably wait until I am calm, cool, and collected. However, as a worship leader, I get increasingly frustrated at the number of churches who follow CCLI's Top 100, or PraiseCharts' Top 50 list. Many (maybe even most, if not all) of the songs on those lists are testimonial songs, some of them landing in the "bad teaching" camp. Worship songs are not about us. AT. ALL. If anything, we sing about things that are for all Christians for all time. So, what are those themes we should be singing about?

Horizontally speaking:
  • My sin and need of a Savior - YUP!
  • My quickness to wander from the faith - YUP!
  • My desire to please God, but my inability to do that on my own power - YUP!
  • Our need, desire to follow His commands and our yearning for the Holy Spirit's power to enable us to do so - YUP
  • Our responsibility to follow His commands, His Spirit, His Love
  • The assurance that God offers us through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
  • The promises God gives us in order to endure and persevere through the hard times
Vertically speaking:
  • God's condescending to humans to bring us to Him
  • God's sovereignty over our salvation
  • His character and nature in creation
  • His graciousness and kindness in special revelation
This list could go on further. In fact, if you have something to add, feel free to comment below and be sure to cite scripture in context. I'll edit this list with your comments added!

That said, there are many and varied ways to violate corporate worship. One of those ways is to sing of situational and individualistic experiences in the Christian life. In the words of, I believe, Mike Winger of, "We are putting words into people's mouth [during corporate worship]." What are some ways we violate the Biblical nature of corporate worship?

Horizontally speaking:
  • Singing of my willingness and ability to remain faithful to Jesus without mentioning that it is only through the Holy Spirit that I'm able to do so.
  • "I'm singing my greatest hallelujah!" - NOPE! We're straight up commanded to give God the glory in any state we find ourselves. We are not to boast in ANYTHING except the cross of Christ.
  • "Our God is the Lion / The Lion of Judah / He's roaring with power / And fighting our battles" - I don't think so. What does that even mean? First of all, which part of the Godhead is the lyrics referring to? According to scripture, it's Jesus. So, wrong there. Whenever we, Christians, use the name God, we are referring to the Father. And, according to the book of Philippians, The Lion became the Lamb. "...and he humbled himself..." (see Phil. 2:6-9a). How is he roaring with power? Or, what battles is He fighting? No context for understanding that. It's all a blanket statement for an emotional draw with little real indication of our sorry sinful state. If we don't see ourselves as sinners in need of saving, we see ourselves wrongly. As Christians, we are forgiven, and we should be grateful, but not so grateful that we forget that, though our position has changed, our continual need for his grace hasn't changed.
  • Here's one that's a little harder to decipher: "Here at Your feet, I lay my life down / For You my King You're all I want now / And my soul sings" (emphasis mine). This could be more personal to me. I should want him. I do want him. But, I find myself fighting, and sometimes losing, battles with my flesh. I don't always want him. How can we sing this song and then sing "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it / Prone to leave the God I Love"? So confusing to Christians.
Here's the deal. I'm finding more and more that pastors/preachers/teachers are simply not preaching the gospel and laying out the Biblical model of repentance and faith. Many are issuing a false gospel call of calling those who are broken-hearted, instead of sinners, to Christ. It's the same false gospel that giants of the faith like Spurgeon, Whitefield, Lloyd-Jones, Ray Comfort, and many others have fought against for decades and centuries. Does God want the broken-hearted? If you mean those broken over their sin, then YES! If you mean, "I got my feelings hurt and he/she broke my heart," then no, he doesn't. We (you and I) should be more broken-hearted over our sin and rebellion. Instead, we're told not to feel that way. To be honest, I don't want to feel shame over my sin. But, that's like putting a numbing agent on our body. Doesn't pain tell us that something is wrong? So, if we're numb to it, how can we know it needs repairing?

So, I could go much longer here, but I plead with you, pastor, teacher, preacher, worship leader. Stop singing about yourself wrongly. Sing rightly. That makes the grace of God in Jesus Christ that much more amazing because it's true!

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