Think Carefully About the Songs You Sing

Think Carefully About the Songs You Sing

There’s a fairly new worship song we have begun to sing entitled “What A Beautiful Name,” put out by Hillsong Worship.  It’s a beautiful song and evidently Christians love it.  The song has over 100 million views on YouTube.  We sang the song for about the fourth time last Sunday.  I love the song.  It praises the power of the name of Jesus.  It declares Jesus as the Word who was present at the beginning of Creation.  It proclaims the power of Jesus over death. The song swells with truth about Jesus, his incomparable glory, and victorious resurrection.   It rises in crescendo from earth to heaven while declaring Jesus’ resurrection and elevation to his unrivaled reign in the kingdom of heaven.  When we reach this point in the song, if I’m not already on my feet, I cannot help but leap up.  The song is powerful, because the name of Jesus is powerful.

However, there’s one line that gets under my theological skin every time I hear it.  It’s a line that is ambiguous at best and potentially destructive at worst. Here’s the line. “You didn’t want heaven without us…”  Technically this is true.  For God is a God who is relational and yearns for a relationship with us.  He created us to be in relationship with him.  He loves lost sinners, and laid down his own life to seek and save the lost.  However, this line can wrongly infer two dangerous doctrines.

First, it can mistakenly give the impression that God was lonely before he created humanity and so we humans bear the burden of helping him satisfy his need of companionship.  This is patently false.  God was not lonely before he created the world.  From all of eternity past he has enjoyed the gloriously sweet relationship of eternal joy between the eternal Son and the eternal Spirit (Jn. 1:1-2; 17:3; Heb. 9:14).  God is a triune in his very essence.  He has never been alone or lonely.

Secondly, this line in the song can also mistakenly elevate the importance of humanity.  Certainly humanity is important, for Jesus died for us.  However, it is nothing but sinful pride that would assume that any human possesses some quality that God lacks.  Are we able to do something that God can’t?  Paul says it well, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7).  Every quality we have, we have received from God.  Therefore, we have nothing to give back to God that has not already first come to us from him.  We ought never to think that we fulfill some deficiency in God.  Again Paul is helpful.  “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth… is not served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25).   God is the great Giver.  He gives to us all we need.  We do not supply his needs, he supplies ours.  This is why he is so great.  What god in all the history of the world ever came to serve humans. And yet this is exactly what Jesus did.  He came to serve us, by living a holy life, dying an atoning death, and rising again from the dead—three things we could never do.  “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  We don’t serve God as though he is needy.  He serves us by saving us because we are needy.

So think carefully about the songs you sing—even worship songs.  Don’t get your theology from songs.  Get it from the Bible.  It’s true God did not want heaven without us, for Jesus died to get us there.  But God was not lonely and we are not better companions than his Holy Son or his Holy Spirit.  We do not supply his needs.  He supplies ours.  And our every need can be met through faith in Jesus.  What a beautiful name!

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