Lately I’ve come to appreciate the thought that goes into writing lyrics to music, especially Christian music.
The non-Christian lyricist does not have to be diligent in their efforts to write a song. The subject matter can be subjective feelings, a thinly veiled advocacy of any cause, a naked celebration of emotion.
There are no fact-check websites devoted to the question of whether in fact Beyoncé’s break-up (real or imagined) involved ‘a box to the left’.
There has never been (as far as I know) a ‘Mythbusters’ episode examining the idea posed by Roy Orbison that a person can bit the bullet, then chew it.
There has never been a feasibility study by a think-tank on the question raised by John Lennon of what would happen if there were no governments and no religion.
There are woke SJW’s however, who review classic hits through the lens of the current political climate and mangle old favourites:
Songwriters and singers like Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin and Big Daddy Weave have to do their homework when it comes to Christian music. I appreciate the effort that goes into the process. Steven Curtis Chapman for example decided to write a song with Chris Tomlin to collaborate on the lyrics to ‘The One true God’. If you’re making music about God, it has to conform to the highest standards.
In listening to a Big Daddy Weave track this past month, I just know that they were in-part inspired by Paul’s letter to the Romans: from references to the kindness of Jesus (Romans 2:4) and to where ‘justice was served and where mercy wins’ (Romans 3:25 – 26).
This is not some jingle scrawled on the back of a napkin. These guys do their homework. Currently, I’m working my way through a Small Group study on Romans by Messrs Blackaby.
In the introduction they begin by saying that the central theme of Romans is righteousness – right standing with God.
I’m circling around the idea of righteousness and there are two perspectives: from the human perspective, righteousness involves our standing with God, how we get there and stay there! From God’s perspective (if I may speak in the abstract, and not for Him) it’s about His perfect standard, the sensitivity with which He applies His standard (since He could at any moment kill every person for their moral debt) and the seriousness with which He views unrighteousness.
He has a situation on His hands with the human race, but He has not washed His hands of us. It is incredible to me that He wishes to impute righteousness to man.
The psalmist and king, David wrote about how blessed it is to be forgiven for unrighteousness:
Blessed is the man ‘whose sin the Lord does not count against them’. Not merely taking a Tipp-Ex to sin, but imputing righteousness.
Paul has already argued in the strongest terms that no one can ever earn righteousness. It would be impossible for God NOT to count their sins against them in their moral failure.
So, David must have been talking about another way (other than obeying the Law) to experience this blessedness of being acquitted.
I was speaking with an acquaintance this week about righteousness and his idea was that God cannot possibly be so strict, or to put in in terms I would use, benign. I think that type of reasoning is personally reckless. I think that Paul was right, that God views sin in the most serious light as an insult to His spotless, holy character.
Despite the world’s consensus, I don’t think God is good humoured about moral failure, that He winks at the whole thing and chuckles good-naturedly at the fumbling drenched in blood and tears that goes on. Without this idea of God being justifiably full of wrath, what amazement would there be in the cross?
Paul’s words encapsulate the point better than I could; God demonstrates his righteousness in Christ by being ‘just and the one who justifies’. (Romans 3:26, NIV)
There had to be a punishment. Payment was due. Paul writes that ‘in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished’. (Romans 3:25, NIV). The tab had been accumulating, sins piling up in a stack of IOUs twenty feet deep.
In one act, His justice was satisfied and righteousness was offered to the unrighteous.
It is unfathomable to me that God the Father should punish God the Son, but that is what happened. The word ‘punish’ hardly encompasses the depths of agony described by crucifixion, or the mental and spiritual anguish of a cry being met by the Father’s silence.
It is incomprehensible that He made us righteous, but those are the facts.
Just and the one who justifies. Of when justice was served and where mercy wins.
The Father showed the most extreme level of diligence in working out a way for us to be restored to Him after all the rubbish we pulled.
Having this in view, what now? Faith and righteousness, righteousness and faith. The way to understand this, and walk in it is faith. It’s almost too simple since we expect 18 thousand moving parts and several hundred cogs in a ponderously complex blueprint of religion.
As Paul quoted Habakkuk in Romans: The just (those made righteous) will live by faith.