Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Contemporary "Worship" Fail



But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

Does anyone really think that Jesus meant we'd have these elaborate light shows, vapid songs with mindless repetition of "glory," "amazing," and "awesome?" Not to mention the personal pronouns that populate the so-called contemporary "worship" songs. 

In fairness, there are songs that are contemporary, meaning written in my lifetime, that have meaningful lyrics. In Christ Alone comes to mind. And there are others, too. Men and women who have not settled for using their talents for their career building or notoriety have been used by God to compose some wonderfully thoughtful songs that engage the mind and spirit. 

What I find odd is that these advocates of contemporary worship seem to wrinkle their noses at the hymns of the past. What was good and thought-provoking worship for hundreds of years needs sudden purging from our services, as if we're getting rid of moldy bread from the pantry. 

Once I commented that we don't just get rid of all the old devotionals from Spurgeon or Tozer just because we have Piper and MacDonald. But then I realized that ... Yes, we do! If you mention C.S. Lewis you might get a glimmer of recognition from the movies of the Chronicles of Narnia, but not for Mere Christianity, The Abolition of Man or The Great Divorce. If I mention F. B. Meyer (which I do, often) I get blank stares from folks. Mention Jonathan Edwards and people think of a slimy politician! Yet these men penned some great Christian works of Scriptural meditation that can enlighten us in our study. I could go on, but that's for another time. 

The point is, our "contemporary" mindset seems to be scornful of the past ... to our own detriment. How much truth have we sacrificed for so-called relevance? 

Take a gander at these lyrics: 

Long my imprisoned spirit lay / fast bound in sin and nature's night; 
Thine eye diffused a quick'ning ray / I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free
I rose, went forth and followed Thee. 
Amazing Love! How can it be, that thou, my God, should'st die for me? 

Just look at the Gospel spelled out in those lines of verse and the natural praise that flows out at the end? And that's just one of five verses, each packed with the power of a man who understood his claim in Jesus Christ and exalted in the purity of its truth and celebrated its power in his spirit. 

The last verse reads: 

No Condemnation now I dread / Jesus, and all in Him is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head / and clothed in righteousness divine.
Bold I approach the eternal throne 
And claim the crown through Christ, my own
 
This song is as relevant today as it was so long ago. Why doesn't it show up in contemporary worship? Why do we substitute it with songs that have three or four lines that get repeated several more times? 
I suspect Jesus is still searching for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Those people will not try to have a "king to rule over them" like all the world around them. They won't look for the theater seating over the hard, wooden pews. Those things will not attract their notice because they are so enthralled with Jesus and the true life that He has given them.

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