Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Testimonial vs. Transcendence

Reading a post on Tim Brister's blog today about some of his observations regarding the recent SBC Annual Meeting he attended. While I'm not a Southern Baptist and am not all that interested in what went on there, one of Tim's statements really captured very well some things I've been seeing in worship music for a while but haven't been able to express. Tim said:

"Many if not most of the songs were testimonial with very little transcendence, little about who God is and what He has done. Instead they were about who we are what we are going to do. I just like singing about Jesus more than I do me, and I would have liked to have been able to do that more..."
That's it! That's what's' been bugging me about so much of what we seem to use as worship music today. And I see this even in my own church to some extent. I often have a hard time singing some of the music because the words seem so...well, so "I'm-gonna-do-this-for-you-Lord" rather than "You-are-holy-and-righteous-and-sovereign-and-full-of-grace." So much focused on declaring what Christ has done for me and what I am purposing to do for Him, instead of declaring who He is and exalting Him for that. After all, isn't that what worship is? Raising our focus off of ourselves and placing it on the Exalted One, expressing back to Him praises and honor and glory for who He is?

Of course, there's a place for music, even worship music, that exults in the grace of God that He's manifested in our individual and corporate lives. If you take the Psalms as a prototypical hymnal, then you'll find many such songs praising and thanking Him for His marvelous works and mercy, and expressing devotion and commitment to Him by the psalmist. But you'll find mixed in many more references to the greatness and glory of our Lord and Savior, expressing praise for His transcendent majesty over and above His immanence. I'm just mainly looking for balance, and I, like Tim, am missing it.

There are plenty of contemporary Christian songs that are anthropologically focused, some of which express Biblical truths very well. But I'm not sure many of those belong in a worship set if our objective is to lift up our eyes unto the Holy One of Israel and declare His worthiness.

"Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created." Revelation 4:11

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing." Revelation 5:12

1 comment:

kim said...

Nothing has encouraged me more in my recent diagnosis of cancer than to know His omniscience, His omnipotence, His sovereignty and His lovingkindnesses that are new every day. I have never been flooded with more peace in my life than adoring and meditating on Him.

I spent time musing on Phillipians 3 and the hymn "Like a River Glorious"

1. Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.
* Refrain:
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.
2. Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.
3. Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

I don't know where I would be with out knowing HIM!!!

P.S. Reading John Piper's "Don't Waster Your Cancer" pointed straight to Him and the attributes mentioned above...oh, the encouragement of fellow believers to run to Him and run the way of His commandments. He is great, He is awesome. He is worth EVERYTHING!!!