Thursday, April 10, 2008

All About Jesus

I love listening to good music. My wife and I enjoy occasionally listening to an artist who wrote such good words as:


You are the sun shining down on everyone
Light of the world giving light to everything I see
Beauty so brilliant I can hardly take it in
And everywhere you are is warmth and light

And I am the moon with no light of my own
Still you have made me to shine
And as I glow in this cold dark night
I know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to you


That's some good stuff. However, lately I've been thinking about the lyrics of another one of her songs, and I must say that although this is a "Christian" artist, these particular words are not altogether Christ-centered. Can you discern the critical flaw? Here are some of the words:


Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it's worth

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful
This is grace, an invitation

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out our best

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside


I feel the need to address some of the things this artist is saying because she's defining vitally important things such as grace and redemption in ways that are unbiblical and man-centered. This is a really pretty song, musically speaking. It's really catchy, and I find myself singing it. And I'm weak enough that I could easily begin to believe these words unless God helps me to see the reality that these words are fallacious in the light of God's word.


Concerning redemption, she says it's about "calling out the best of who we are." Is that what redemption is? Let's see what the Bible says. The Apostle Paul says that those who trust in Jesus "have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7, ESV; see also Colossians 1:14). Redemption has nothing to do with calling out our best. It calls out our worst! We're sinners who need "the forgiveness of our trespasses." It doesn't call out our best; it calls out God's best! He's our Redeemer! He forgives trespasses through Christ's blood! Redemption puts the spotlight on God as he opens up the treasure chest of "the riches of his grace" for all who are Christ's to cherish!


Concerning grace, she says it's "an invitation to be beautiful." Is that what grace is? Paul again helps us understand this. He says that sinners who trust in Jesus "are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24, ESV). Grace is a gift. It comes from the Greek word, χάρις which means unmerited favor. So it's God's gift to sinners to freely give them a favorable relationship with himself through Christ. It's nothing we deserve, nothing we can earn, nothing we're worthy of, nothing we can work for, because we're sinners who deserve God's wrath, not his favor. So there is some truth in this artist's definition. She implies that we are ugly since we are invited "to be beautiful." We indeed are ugly to God in our sin, for apart from his grace we do not reflect his beauty. But this is much, MUCH more than a mere invitation.


Grace is not like receiving a card in the mail inviting us to a favorable relationship with God, an invitation that we can accept or deny if we feel like it. His grace is irresistible. God is not a wimp. If he wants to save you, nothing can stop him from doing it. He will open your heart to cause you to believe in him (see Acts 16:14). You see, we cannot accept or deny any invitation of God's in our sin, because we are spiritually dead. A dead person can't do anything to help himself. No matter how much you invite him to come to a party, he'll never RSVP, he can't respond. He'll never come unless God raises him from the dead. And that's exactly what he does! Paul says that "even when we were dead in our trespasses," God "made us alive together with Christ." That's what God does through the good news of Jesus! He makes us alive so that we can believe and celebrate God in Christ forever and ever!


The critical flaw in these lyrics is that they are entirely egocentric. She's singing about the "best of who we are," and "helping a soul find it's worth." This is diametrically opposed to the way the writers of God's word speak. They say, "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh," and "all have turned aside; together they have become worthless" (Romans 7:8; 3:12 - citing Psalm 53:1-3, ESV).


This is a problem that we in the West all have to deal with. We are in an incredibly egocentric culture, and unfortunately this man-centeredness is even in the church as the above song exemplifies. This self-centeredness does not come from the Bible, it comes from us. It's all over our culture. I see it nearly every morning I put sweetener in my coffee. Check it out on this packet. "Find your inner sweetness." Oh, isn't that cute. It's the same as the public service announcement I saw earlier this year, where the lady from Law & Order SVU, adds to our megalomania saying, "If you like you, everyone else will too." This is just so out of touch with reality it's pathetic. But that's the way we in this culture are apart from Christ. We really are crazy about ourselves. That's how the company, Loreal motivates people to buy its products, "because," they say, "we're worth it." Apart from the truth about Jesus in the Bible, this is what we do: We obsess about our own value and sweetness and likeableness and "the best of who we are," all the while ignoring, belittling, and even scoffing at what's truly sweet and valuable, the infinite worth of our Creator.
This man diagnoses our situation well. Check out this video

video

We have no inner sweetness. We're bitter inside. We have an inner problem, and we need a solution that comes from outside us. We need the gospel of Christ. The good news of Jesus shines an incomparable glory. We can't, as the aforementioned artist sings, "add to the beauty, to tell a better story." God's glorious beauty is perfect and unchangeable. He is perfect, he need not change. And his message of grace and redemption in Christ in the Bible is the best story ever told. It is the story everyone needs to hear over and over again. It's the story of Christ's death for sins and his resurrection from the dead to justify all who trust in him as their Lord and God and Savior and Treasure. If you haven't yet, I urge you to trust in him as your own Master. You are a sinner, and unless you call on him you will not get to enjoy God forever. If you don't treasure him as yours, you will spend an eternity in hell without him. But if you trust in him, you'll be enabled to turn from your sins to follow Christ. Repent and believe the good news of Jesus!

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