I am rather afraid that, in actually expressing these thoughts, I am crossing the line. And as you know if you read my blog regularly, my “line” is already pretty close to a rather steep precipice. Yet, I decided from the outset that I would always be honest and transparent on this blog, so here we go:
Call me crazy, but I am starting to think that I am spiritually impaired in some significant way. I hate (and I do not use this word lightly) church music which my friend Carol has fondly labeled, “Jesus is my boyfriend music” and I cannot seem to worship in any way, shape or form while it is being sung or played.
You know what I’m talking about, right?
I’m talking about choruses that a lot of people whom I love dearly and respect deeply like to sing during worship. Some of them are okay, but some . . . some just make my toes curl.
“Why?”, you may ask in confusion. Well, I could go into a long treatise about the theology found in some praise choruses, how much of it is shallow and a lot of it is just plain wrong. Or, I could give you a long explanation of the limited musical credibility many choruses embody (I am not really qualified to do that, but all I am saying is that I could).
But the main thing that bugs me . . . the thing that really bakes my cake . . . is the way so many of these songs make me feel like I am not worshipping but rather that I am attending some sort of aerobics class/dating event.
Witness the words to a song I particularly hate, one which is sung quite often and loved by many. Here are the words:
This is the air I breathe, This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence, living in me.
This is my daily Bread, This is my daily Bread
Your very Word spoken to me.
And I, I’m desperate for you.
And I, I’m lost without You.
(“I’m desperate for you”???!?!?!? People, we’re talking about GOD here . . . the God of the Universe. This is not a note passed to a boyfriend during a 7th grade pre-algebra class.) Yes, these are the thoughts that start going through my head when I hear this song . . . and other songs, even ones with words like this:
What a wonderful Maker
What a wonderful Savior
And how humble your love
With a strength like no other
And the heart of a Father
How majestic your whispers
What a wonderful God.
“How majestic your whispers”?????!?!
Besides not liking the music and the words all the much, well, you know what it’s like when these songs are sung in worship. Very often the person leading them is playing the guitar energetically with eyes closed, looking deeply moved and heart-wrenchingly spiritual.
(When I am present I am usually standing there NOT looking deeply moved and heart-wrenchingly spiritual).
And then, in an act that truly and irrevocably ruins the worship experience for me, the leader yells out something like, “Let’s try that one more time!” or “I’m desperate for you, sing it again!” or “Sing it out louder!”
I am sorry, but all I can think of when I hear something like this in worship is the memory of a twice-weekly aerobics class I attended with my mom when I was in high school. It was a whole hour of jumping around and sweating to “The Eye of the Tiger
” with the leader yelling out things like (you guessed it)
, “Let’s try that one more time!”
Needless to say this is not a fond memory of mine.
So whenever a worship experience like this happens to me, as it did this past week, I start to feel a little, well . . . inadequate. Could it be that I am missing some very critical piece of spiritual DNA, the piece that makes it possible to worship God while someone is singing, “I’m desperate for you”?
This bothers me, you see, because when I sneakily look around the room while songs like this are being sung, all I see are people with eyes closed, swaying peacefully, hands open and extended, almost like they are in some kind of deeply meaningful spiritual trace.
Which does NOT cause me to worship God but instead causes me to lament my own inadequacies and go back to humming “The Eye of the Tiger
” in my head.
This is terrible! I know it! I can’t imagine what could possibly have gone wrong in utero to have left me in this situation. But the fact remains, I just cannot worship when I hear Jesus is my boyfriend music because, well, because Jesus is NOT my boyfriend. God to me is mysterious . . . not distant, very close, but never something so familiar that a relationship can be described the same way I expressed eternal love for Scott Baio
and plastered his picture from Teen Beat
all over my locker in 9th grade.
The thing is, I am, sadly, no longer in love with Scott Baio. But, I hope Jesus has my heart forever (and ever and ever).
All of us approach God differently and I suppose I can grudgingly admit to understanding (kind of) how some people worship to Jesus is my boyfriend music. In fact, God revealed to each one of us in just the way that speaks very deeply to our hearts is something to truly celebrate.
But I do want to say this: if I am going to sing “Forever and ever and ever” in church it had better be in the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah
. . . or I expect to get credit for going to the gym.