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Exalting Me

The second trend in today’s Christian worship music that I see is the increasing emphasis on me instead of on God. The worship songs may mention the names of God and Jesus, but the focus is on me and my feelings

Worship should be about God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. It should be about their great love for us and what they have done for us. It should be about their faithfulness to us. Instead, today’s Christian worship music is about me and how much I love God and what I am going to do for him. It is about my faithfulness to love him and to praise him for the rest of my days. It is about me and my feelings.

For example, the song, “I Love Your Presence,” has this line in it:

I can feel you near, God.
I believe, I believe.

It implies that I believe because I can feel him near. What happens when I don’t feel him near, which is the vast majority of the time? Do I stop believing? The song implies that our belief is based on our feelings, rather than on truth.

For the truth is our feelings are not a sure foundation upon which to build our faith. Our feelings change from day to day, even from minute to minute. If we build our faith upon our feelings, then our faith wavers when the “good” feelings disappear.

The Church has always taught that our faith is based on truth. The truth is that God is always near, even when we don’t feel his presence. He always loves us, even when we feel that he does not. He is always faithful, even when we feel that he has let us down. But today’s Christian worship music assumes that our relationship with God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ is based on our feelings rather than on truth.

The song, “You Know Me,” says “Wherever I go, you find me.” That sounds so spiritual and so Biblical because the Bible does say “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). But the line actually reverses what Jesus himself said: “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also” (John 12:26). God is not our servant. We should not decide where we are going next, expecting God to follow us. We are called to be the servants of Jesus Christ. He decides where he is going next, and we are expected to willingly follow him. The song ignores the truth because it is really exalting me instead of God.

But that this song exalts me should come as no surprise when you learn from where this song came. It was written in 2011 by Steffany Gretzinger and William Matthews, both of whom were worship leaders at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church at the time. My pastor once pointed out with great insight that the Word of Faith theology is an error unto itself, but it also tends to lead people further and further away from the truth. The Word of Faith theology ends up putting us in charge. We decide if we should be wealthy and we decide if we should be made well and we end up commanding God to give those things to us. God is not in control; we are. And in fact, that is precisely what Bill Johnson teaches his congregation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB1BGhvCij4). That is why his worship leaders wrote a song that pictures God following us instead of us following God.

At the same time that today’s Christian worship music teaches us that we can control our circumstances, it also teaches us that we can’t control ourselves and even that we shouldn’t want to control ourselves. The song, “Set a Fire,” was written by Will Reagan, the same person who wrote “Break Every Chain.”  The chorus says:

So set a fire down in my soul,
That I can’t contain, that I can’t control.

But this request is contrary to what the Word teaches. The fruit of the Spirit includes self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). The Word tells us repeatedly to “be sober” (I Thess. 5:6, 8; Titus 2:2, 6; 1 Pet. 1:13, 5:8). The Word says that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32). The idea of losing control is a pagan idea. Satan wants us to lose control because it opens us up to demonic suggestions and can cause us to sin.

The teaching that we should lose self-control is appealing because it releases us from all responsibility for our actions. If we end up doing something wrong, well, it’s not our fault; we lost control. And yet, if we lose control and end up doing something “spiritual,” we still want the credit for it. Somehow we believe that we are better people if we love someone because we couldn’t help it, rather than choosing to love. We believe that we are more spiritual if we couldn’t help but do what is right, rather than choosing to do what is right. The Word never teaches us to lose self-control. It teaches that we are to be in full control of our faculties so that we can choose to submit them in obedience to God.

Years ago, my worship leader sang a song (I do not remember the title) in which we asked the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit to come fill this place and be with us. Then he prayed, “Lord Jesus, we do ask you to come fill this place.” He paused because it suddenly occurred to him what he had just requested. Then he went on: “But in fact you are already here because you said that if two or three are gathered in your name, you will be there.” This perfectly illustrates my point. So often today’s Christian worship music proclaims error because it is based on our thoughts and our feelings and our desires and, dare I say, our lusts. But the Word proclaims the truth. Our worship songs, like our teaching, should be based on the truth. Any worship song that is not is simply not worth singing.

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