This is by no means a scientific poll, but I just clicked on the song sample that Amazon offers so you can hear an album highlight. These are the random highlights from five songs from the top ten Christian downloads; see if you notice a theme.
- I don't know what makes me so afraid.
- You will be safe in His arms.
- You bring me through.
- How you gonna fix it with nowhere to turn?
- You're crying on the floor cuz you can't take no more.
If this is any sort of mood barometer, Christians are very scared these days. That really isn’t a shocker; the economy is shaky, unemployment is high and there are people willing to blow up their underpants to kill us. Christians are not immune to these concerns and the contemporary Christian music industry has tapped into this zeitgeist.
What is interesting (and troubling) is how Christian artists are attempting to sing us out of our anxieties. Certainly not all contemporary Christian music (CCM) is guilty of this, but I think it is fair to say that overall, CCM offers no more hope than Chopra (a new age guru from India) or Oprah (a new age guru from Chicago).
Imagine you are at the park when a child falls and gashes her knee. You and her father run to rescue her. Right before you reach her, you both stop short and hold out your arms so she can choose who she wants to help her. Dad does not say a word while you beg her, “Let me hold you. I want to hug you. I will help you.”
Who is she going to embrace? Instinctively she will run to the arms of her father because she KNOWS that he will take care of her. She KNOWS this because he has proven himself faithful to her for years. You can plead and beg all you want, but the child will only find comfort in the one who has proven his faithfulness and ability.
That is precisely where most contemporary Christian music and preaching fails. An artist can sweetly sing that God wants to hug you, and that may make you feel better while you listen, but these lyrics are placebos at best. In order to find true comfort and true healing, you need to KNOW that God is in capable of protecting you. You need knowledge of his abilities, power and past performance. In other words, you need theology.
It does not help to be told over and over, “Let God hold you, He wants to protect you, fall into His arms.” What comforts us is when we see God’s strength demonstrated over and over again in the Bible. We don’t need tunes that tell us to let God embrace us, we need theology set to music that proves that God is strong and is in control over every detail of our lives.
Here are three actual CCM lyrics that I discovered when I Googled, “God wants to hold you.”
"I was wondering can you hold me now
You are the only one that's patient when I fall."
"Father, I want You to hold me
I want to rest in Your arms today
Father, I want You to show me
How much You care for me in every way"
"All that I ever wanted was this peace as you
Hold me now, as you hold me now
All that I ever needed was this love as you
Hold me now, forever hold me now"
Contrast those gems with these theological statements from the Bible:
- God spoke the universe into existence in six 24 hour days.
- God parted a sea so His children would be safe.
- Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven.
You don’t even need to be told to not worry when you KNOW that God is the Creator, Controller and Conqueror. Knowledge of who God is and what He has done results in comfort.
While I am terribly tempted to plug Exalted Worship (available at www.wretchedradio.com), I am not going to. Instead, let me encourage you in these challenging times to not reach for sugar pill music, but to fill yourself with songs about God’s unchanging truths. Don’t listen to pep talk preaching, but gorge yourself on solid sermons filled with truth.
It is OK to need comfort, God is happy to provide it. God will feed you when you flee to His Word. It may not be as catchy as breathy Christian pop tunes, but it is sweeter than honey, more valuable than fine gold and it (and it alone) will comfort you.