Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Current History

Do you ever find yourself caught between culture and history? I do, all the time. I love the depth of historical Christianity and the newness, the passion, of what God is doing right now, today, in my generation. These aren’t at odds with each other, but sometimes it seems like it. To me, this ‘conflict’ personifies itself in music.

I love the lyrics of the old hymns. Not the ‘hymns’ of the past forty years, but the true hymns centuries old. I love the fast, hard music of the youth. I don’t want an organ dominating the music at youth group, though there is a time and place when the organ is beautiful. Guitars and drums are no less beautiful, they just satisfy a different setting.

I hate archaic King Jimmy. I’m not looking for ‘thees’ and ‘thous.’ Those do not connect with the culture or serve a purpose in their distance (i.e., they are not more holy). In many ways, Old English is a different language than that of teenagers and adults today. Language is not the issue; what I am looking for is depth. I’m no fan of 7-11 choruses: 7 times repeating 11 words. There is so much more to ‘love God with all your mind’ than engaging in theological debates over obscure verses that don’t really matter.

My love of the hymns may be more of a personal preference than anything. (I’m the weird kind of kid who would rather write a paper than do a poster. I expressed this in class today to one of my friends, and she quickly offered to do all my posters this year if I would write her papers.) However, I believe the hymns are more than that. There is a sense of unity with the Global Church, reaching across time and space, when you sing words penned by a Christian who loved God and struggled with sin just like me 300 years ago. When you think that Christians all over the world have agreed with the words and used them to aid in worship for hundreds of years, there is comfort in that. And there is hope in knowing that those same believers who have gone before us ran their race and now cheer us on from the cloud of witnesses.

Hymns were once contemporary music that was controversial in that they weren’t Gregorian chants or the like. The lyrics are born out of theology and the struggles of real life. They are filled with emotion and overflowing with Scripture integrated into the words. Are there exceptions? Sure, of course, just like there are modern songs that are spiritually worthless.

I’m looking for a balance. I don’t want to live in the past, cause God is doing too many exciting things right now to live buried in what He did in 600 years ago. It is also stupid to ignore the some 2000 years of church history after the NT ends. Were they perfect? No, but we can learn from the men and women of God who struggled with the same things we face today, in different packaging. There is nothing new under the sun. C.S. Lewis says it is similar to joining a conversation hours after it began. Even familiarity with the discussion topic will not make up for the conversation that occurred before you arrived. You will still be missing pieces of the puzzle.

Worship is not about music or style or anything external. I should be able to worship God while I’m hauling rocks for His glory or when I’m singing to music I don’t personally enjoy. Worship is about my heart glorifying God. Corporate worship is about making Jesus more beautiful and believable and real in our lives. If I am not willing to worship in any setting, does God really have my heart?

God does not change. The way He relates to us and they way we relate to Him hasn’t changed in 2000 years. His character demands that we worship Him. Our lives should demonstrate our response to who He is. On an eternal scale, nothing else matters!

(But sometimes I just like to rant.)

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