I love the idea of partnering with God; of being on his team in bringing about the Kingdom of heaven here on earth – Let your kingdom come and your will be done. But I often wonder if our worship says the same thing. Do we worship the God we partner with, or do we worship the Genie of the lamp?
A significant number of our songs seem to indicate the latter. Take, for example, There must be more than this (Consuming fire). A good, powerful and emotive song: “Consuming fire, fan into flame a passion for your name.” It strikes me that it’s asking God to do the very thing that Paul instructed Timothy to do,
‘… I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.’ – 2 Timothy 1:16
A second glance at the song seems to rub the lamp and put forth our wish for God to our job for us, robbing us of our responsibility to keep our passion for him alive. Find me any relationship where that logic works!
Or, how about the old classic Salvation. “Salvation spring up from the ground, Lord rend the heavens and come down. Seek the lost and heal the lame. Jesus bring glory to your name.” It’s poetic, it’s powerful… it seems to be asking Jesus to do the job he called us to do.
“Go to all people groups and make disciples”
“Really, Jesus? Can’t you just find and save everyone, turn them into lovely people like us and then bring them to our church? That would fit so much better with my schedule.”
I understand that without God, our actions are futile and amount to nothing. I also understand that “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.” But I also believe that the Holy Spirit was given to us at Pentecost to enable us to do the task set before us. If that then is the case, and it’s a genuine partnership between God and his Church, the builders surely have to do something? Not salvation by works, works as evidence of salvation.
Partnership doesn’t rub the lamp and sing “Jesus, Shine your light and let the whole world see we’re singing for the glory of the risen king.” (Mighty to Save)
[Jesus] began to teach them… ‘You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’ Matt 5:16
“Saviour, he can move the mountains!”
“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for them” Mark 11:23
I’ve said it before, I’m all for poetry and imagery, but poetry and imagery that is helpful and builds people’s understanding of the God they come to worship and the relationship they have with that God. As writers we have a responsibilty to be careful with the language we use so we do not misconstrue the message of the Bible through our art.
There are songs that are helpful. There are songs that are poetic and artistic and educational at the same time. These are the songs we should strive to produce; not songs that rob our God of his soverign relational nature and reduce him to the magical genie of the lamp who will grant our every wish.