This morning, well it actually started last night, I was listening to old hymns. Specifically, I looked up Tennessee Ernie Ford to hear him sing old hymns. There’s just something special about that man singing old gospel hymns that is missing from today’s Christianity. I can’t really explain it. His deep voice, very manly compared to many of today’s popular singers as well as the old gospel spiritual and hymns just makes for a completely different experience form the pop culture infused songs that have taken over modern Christianity.
As I was listening to these songs again this morning I realized something. This isn’t going to be a neat tidy post but hopefully it will make you do some research on your own. The realization I came to was this….somehow in trying to make God more reachable by the average person, we have remove much of what God is and THAT my dear friends is a very dangerous thing to do.
Why would I say this? How about you do some research here. Go back and look up lyrics to old hymns even old gospel spirituals and see what they are all about. They focus a lot on our sinfulness, on us not being worthy of God and on how powerful God is. One in particular I listened to this morning I had never heard before. In all my years growing up in a Southern Baptist church, this one was totally new to me. It was simply titled “Others”
- “Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way
That even when I kneel to pray
My prayer shall be for others.
Yes, others, Lord, yes, others,
Let this my motto be;
Help me to live for others,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee,
That I may live like Thee.
- Help me in all the work I do
To ever be sincere and true,
And know that all I’d do for You
Must needs be done for others.
- Let “Self” be crucified and slain
And buried deep: and all in vain
May efforts be to rise again,
Except to live for others.
- So when my work on earth is done,
And my new work in heav’n’s begun,
I’ll praise You for the crown I’ve won,
But praise You more for others.”
As I listened to this song I thought what a great song we should be singing every day. I want my children to learn this one. How many times do song lyrics get stuck in our head and for no reason at all we just start singing them. I’d much rather have these lyrics stuck in my head than some of the pop culture Christian songs today.
I’m just going to pick on the top song that came up today in a google search. This is a song I’ve never heard and although the lyrics sound fine, are they really?
“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)”
What I see when I look at these lyrics is how this song is all about the singer and how they feel and what they think. There is nothing wrong with realizing that it is what God says about you that matters. But my point is that somehow we have shifted our focus from God and our unworthiness to ourselves and how we should feel worthy.
Even sermons today seem to focus on making you feel good, on building you up, on encouraging you, etc. rather than focusing on your unworthiness before God and what a miserable wretch you are and that He saved you despite your worth. And it isn’t just our songs and our sermons. It goes much deeper than that.
I think of some pastors I have know and some who refer to God in the informal as “daddy” or “papa” because they want to bring Him closer to them and make Him more personal. There is nothing wrong with realizing that God is your personal savior, however, in referring to him in a more diminutive form, I believe you are bringing Him down to your level rather than elevating Him to the level He deserves. Yes, God came in the flesh to meet with us, but He did so in His way. God remains all powerful, all knowing, and we need to realize that He is the great I AM and we are nothing but dust. We are so unworthy of Him in every way. Yet in everything in modern Christianity we have brought Him down to us and I don’t believe that is wise. In doing this, we have made Him more familiar and we all know that when we get more comfortable with people we tend to take them for granted, we tend to not see them for their position but as just another person in our lives. We need to revere God. We need to fear God. We need to know that in His eyes, we are nothing more than dust of the earth easily snuffed out. We need to live in such awe of God that we tremble in thinking that he cared enough to come near to us at all much less send His son to die for us because we certainly didn’t deserve it.
Instead, we’ve turned Christianity into an excuse to sin and never repent. We keep doing wrong saying we are “only human” and then claim grace like it’s some magic ticket that gets us off the hook. If you read the lyrics to old hymns you will see a different opinion of God, a different position that we hold with Him and we seem to have completely lost that by making Him our “friend”.
I believe we have come to the place of 2 Timothy 3 where he says we will have a “form of godliness but denying its power”.
3 But know this, that in the last days [a]perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, [b]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
And how sad is it that even our modern Christian worship music reflects this with songs about us, with prayers that focus on what God should give us, with our pastors being expelled from pulpits all over the country because of their lust and adultery, because of our grace only philosophy instead of us focusing on God, His power, His might and worshipping Him and falling on our faces before Him and knowing that we are so not worthy of His love or grace.
No, God is not my friend. God is my GOD!