Without a doubt, I can tell you there is no love lost between me and the contemporary style of worship music. It has been a struggle for me, not necessarily because of style, but because of substance. Whether quaint affirmations, or simply repetitive nondescript lyrics, it was a chore at times to go with the church culture “flow” and raise a hand in agreement while we lifted our voices to God in unity. My difficulties showed on me. It showed on the scowl I wore. It showed as I tried to change the lyrics as I sung, and it eventually showed in my body language to all those around me. People in my old church probably wondered if I was even a Christian anymore before it was decided for me that I should never come back. Best decision ever made on my behalf, and I mean that with sincerity.
The new church I attend has a mix of old and new. What you hear there is the depth-ness of the hymns and a few worship songs thrown in as well. My preference now is for the hymns, but I can now pick out things in a worship song and see, that at least some of those lyrics honor God in the truths that are stated in them.
Consider the song recently sung at my church, “You Are My King”. Some of the lyrics clearly reveal God’s amazing grace towards us at the cross and in the resurrection:
I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
And I’m alive and well, Your spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again
Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love and I know it’s true
That’s really not bad at all. I think most of us can sing lyrics like that without feeling guilty of being called a heretic. I know I’ve said this a few times, but attending this church has talked me off the ledge when I was so frustrated by bad lyrics and work-laden sermons. I do want to be clear and say that it’s not that the gospel wasn’t present in the sermons I used to hear, but to me, the gospel often felt obscured and hidden under more of a works-emphasized message. Maybe this is me saying that I have a better eye at spotting the gospel in these sermons now. I don’t know if I’m really any better at considering these things than I was “way back when”. Most people who know me will probably say I’ve still got a long way to go. I would agree with them, as I admit I’m still far from where God wants me, but I am so much more aware of that then I once was. This brings me to the next point about some worship music and it how it specifically relates to that awareness.
There are just certain lyrics I can’t muster up the nerve to sing. I feel like the biggest liar in the world as the words reluctantly leak out from my lips. How can anyone with any honesty sing lyrics of unflappable obedience and complete surrender? I just can’t fool myself like that. I know others, including some Pastors, that feel the same way. Consider the rest of the lyrics to the song I mentioned:
And it’s my joy to honor You, in all I do, to honor You
In all I do, to honor you
Really? “In all I do, to I honor you?” I know some will label me a “nit-picker”, and that may be deserved, but if we take God’s Word seriously and take His law seriously, how could any of us do anything but lie, though blissfully, as those words burst forth in joyful adulation. To me, it proves all the more what cesspools our mouths are as we don’t carefully consider what words we speak in truth. We are often told to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and to be careful of what we say, in reference to living our everyday lives. If there is a place this should be even more present its in a Sunday church service, where if taught properly, we learn of our constant need for God and His forgiveness.
I’m not asking anyone to burn their hillsong albums. I’m past telling people what they have to do. (Most days anyway) What I’d like to encourage you to do though, is not just sing the songs, but read them. Read them and then ask yourself if you can say this honestly. Can you say something like, “in all I do, I honor you?”
Let those kinds of questions lead you on a journey to hold God’s Word in higher esteem.
Let the eventual answer remind you even more, that when you don’t honor God in all you do, Christ did on your behalf.
Let it remind you of the Gospel, full of God’s grace to cover you throughout your life.
My prayer is that you might hear the heart behind these words, and its God’s and not mine.