Sunday, April 22, 2018

heard it in a love song (can't be wrong) -- part 2

The Word for today:
Deuteronomy 3
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
If you love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
Yesterday, in part 1, we sampled a few lyrics from the current rash of "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs which have made their way into our churches. (If you aren't aware of this particular genre, we hope you'll click here to see what you haven't been missing.)
Part 1 concluded with these thoughts:

"Though (I guess) these songs are meant to be understood figuratively, I still fail to see how they advance an individual’s relationship to God. And when the song is over, it’s still not over; its effects linger in the air. I’m not offended as much as I am disturbed and saddened.
What saddens me is how many young guys, like my own sons, find these songs either faintly or overtly creepy and thus determine, mid-song, that they can’t wait to get out, and stay out, of anything resembling “church.”
To a large segment of the people we are trying to reach, such songs can be terminal to any possible relationship that they might develop with Jesus. They, and I, would feel more comfortable in the company of snake handlers.
With so many songs to choose from, why these? And even if someone might personally benefit from them, what are they doing in church?"
What disturbs me most about these songs is not the fact that they could be written about anybody’s boyfriend. What really bothers me is that they could be written about anybody’s false god. There is very little that is specific to Jesus Christ in these lyrics.
To keep things in perspective, I must say that the church has far bigger problems than this one. I don’t want to overstate the issue, so if you’ll allow me just a few scriptural precepts, I’ll be making my way towards the door:
1. There is nothing in Scripture which resembles these lyrics in tone or content. That does not make them wrong, per se, or unscriptural. But if we must sing them, could they at least be labeled “Other than Scriptural” or “Religiously Generic” (sort of like “X-mas” songs).
2. I say this very gently and respectfully, because most people (I hope) do sing these songs figuratively. So let me review a biblical figure of speech --the bride of Christ (1)-- which seems to be operative in these songs:
No one ever marries Jesus, even metaphorically. It’s the church (at large) and not the individual who is the scriptural “Bride of Christ.” Furthermore, “bride” is used figuratively to represent the spiritual faithfulness of the church -- as contrasted to the prostitute or adulterous wife, who figuratively represents spiritual unfaithfulness.
The predominant biblical description of our relationship to God is that we are children of God the Father by virtue of our relationship to his Son Jesus Christ (2). Believers have the same Father because we have the same Brother.
3. Love is a many-splendored thing, and that is precisely why the New Testament, in its original Greek, was careful to designate carnal love as “eros” and the love relationship we have with God as “agape.” It seems to me that to describe agape in terms of eros is unseemly at best.
4. Finally, back to our reading schedule. The theme of Deuteronomy, which we are just beginning, is to love and obey God:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
OK, we should love God, but how is that accomplished? The Bible makes it clear that obedience is man’s response to God’s love:
If you love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
And while we’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt if the love lyrics we sing to him could never be mistaken for words we might direct towards the junior accountant three cubicles over.
Just sayin'.
(1) The phrase "Bride of Christ" does not specifically appear in your Bible, but it can be inferred from 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27, 32; Revelation 19:6-8; 21:2, 9.
(2) See Romans 8:29 and Hebrews 2:11-13

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