The other day, I was scanning through the preset radio stations in my car, looking for a song to match my good mood. As I sorted through the variety of channels for something upbeat or perhaps a song by a favorite artist, something dawned on me. It is all worship music. And I’m not saying that I only listen to Christian music stations- worship happens on every station! Each verse, chorus, and bridge tells us who or what the artist values and makes much of. Whether it is the opposite sex, the party/dance scene, alcohol, tractors (can you tell what music I listen to?), or God Himself, every song is worshipping something.
This first epiphany led to a second one. I started thinking about my favorite Country songs, the ones that I was really looking for as I switched from station to station. Could a common theme be found? I went over each song in my head with lines like “I don’t want good and I don’t want good enough, I want can’t sleep, can’t breathe without your love,” “I’ll go to heaven or I’ll go to hell before I see you with someone else,” or “you are the best thing that’s ever been mine.” What sticks out to you about each of these excerpts? The word intensity definitely comes to mind, but you could also make a case that each song involves guys actually worshipping the girl he is singing about or vice-versa. Was this common theme pointing to something deep in my heart? Was there something besides their catchy tunes that was appealing to me? That’s when the third and final light bulb turned on: I want to be worshipped! I want to be the object of someone’s affection, to be what they live and breathe for. I want to be their only love, on the throne of their heart as priority over all else.
As a youth leader a few years back, I attended a purity conference with some of my junior high small group and there was a speaker for one session who camped on Proverbs 7. Now, this part of Scripture is usually directed at male audiences, warning about the pitfalls of giving into sexual sin, but this gentleman took a different approach. In a room full of women and girls, he boldly pointed at the wayward women as someone that we, even in subtle ways, want to be. He was basically telling us that we like being worshipped and will easily compromise what we know to be right to get that attention from guys. In my heart, I was offended and wanted to argue against such an audacious statement. But after praying and thinking about what he had said, I began to see the truth in his words, and my musical ‘epiphany’ further confirmed this message.
An atheistic anthropologist named Ernest Becker wrote a work called the Denial of Death, where he investigates the effects of taking God out of culture. He coins what he calls “apocalyptic romance,” where in the absence of a god to worship, mankind will look to other things and in westernized culture, it has looked to a significant other.
“The self-glorification that we need in our innermost being, we now look for in the love partner. What is it that we want when we elevate the love partner to this position? We want to be rid of our faults. We want to be rid of our feeling of nothingness. We want to be justified. We want to know that our existence hasn’t been in vain. We want redemption; nothing less.”
Tim Keller comments on Becker’s work in his book, The Meaning of Marriage, pointing out how “Modern people make the painfulness of marriage even greater than it has to be, because they crush it under the weight of their almost cosmically impossible expectations.” Both men see the need for salvation and the lengths people go to find it in anything but God. No where is this more blatant than in the lyrics in popular songs, and one day, whether near or off in the not-so-distant future, singers, songwriters, and everyone else will realize that the only love that will ever satisfy at that level is the love of Christ.
Think the church is immune from this romantic fanaticizing? I would venture to say that many within the church have fallen prey to the same cultural lie. The only difference is that we dress it up in white and [try to] save it for marriage. The most telling way to reveal the effect of this cultural phenomenon on Christendom is to visit a Christian wedding. Very few weddings, whether it be in personal vows, well wishes to the bride and groom, or even in the prayer or sermon offered at the alter, are absent of sentiments that reflect the culture. Phrases like, “I will love you forever”, “you are the love of my life”, or “this is the best day of my life”.
Are you yourself guilty of any of those phrases or at least the mindset behind them? I know I am. But if we honestly and openly dissect their meanings, I don’t think it too harsh to label them as complete and utter blasphemy, and as the result of forgetting Christ’s ultimate show of love and devotion in the Gospel message. Let’s take a look at each one to really drive this point home, because each lie could be given its own category.
The Forever Lie
“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30)
Having come from a loving home with parents who have now been together for 28 years, Jesus’ words are a tough concept to grasp. Earth is all we experientially know and the marriage relationship has been put on such a pedestal that the idea of all earthly marriages dissolving and not mattering in heaven seems foreign. Think of the widow who is left altered and embittered by the absence of her mate but consoled by the fact that she will see him again. Yes, it is extremely exciting to think of worshipping God along with all the saints on the day we are called home, but according to Christ himself, He has no plans of setting up a house with a white picket fence for earthly marriages to resume in. In fact, Jesus was responding to a question from the Pharisees regarding a woman who was widowed multiple times, and they wanted to know who she would be married to in the afterlife. His response makes sense in the light of how Scripture portrays heaven- a place without the tears of spouses who have to share their one true love with their other deceased spouses! The forever lie is a lie that Satan wants us to believe, to distract us from a better forever. The more supreme forever is the Savior that can legitimately promise an eternity-long relationship, and who in and of Himself is better than forever with thousands of spouses! May we all truly believe with the psalmist that “A day in [His] court is better than a thousand elsewhere” and may our words in regards to earthly marriage reflect that (Psalm 84:10).
The Lie of Completion
Coined in the famous movie Jerry Maguire, the phrase “You complete me” has taken on many different forms and ideas about love, all of which I will call the lie of completion. In her book Lady in Waiting, Jackie Kendall says that “Jerry Maguire was wrong. It sounded good romantically, but biblically a woman was not created to complete a man but to complement a man.” Praise the Lord that the phrase is not true, as it is a subtle dis to all singles. It implies that all humans are incomplete until they find “the one.” Tell that to Christ Himself, who was, in fact, single. Kendall goes on to say that “God knows that you will never be complete until you really understand that you are complete in Jesus.” When couples who have tasted of the immeasurable glories of salvation in Christ proclaim that their spouse completes them or is the only agent that changed them for the better, they are denying the value of salvation and seeking redemption in romance. They are, without realizing it, slapping their Savior in the face.
The Lie of Absolutes
This lie is similar to the lie of completion in that it also forgets about salvation. This lie generally includes any phrase that has the word “best” or “ever”. These phrases offer a very distorted time scale for the Believer’s life. They depict a life where the timeline looks fairly dull until, by some miracle, that special someone looks in their direction. Now, the real story begins, with a crescendo during the wedding day and a plateau of bliss thereafter. The rest of their life does not really carry as much meaning as those fairy tale days spent with their one true love, so none of the other events are really worth mentioning. Now, this story may be true for people who have not experienced the life-altering blessing of salvation, but for those who claim Christ as their Lord, this is a huge lie! This is dangerously close to the description of people in Romans 1:25 who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” A proper timeline should include the day of salvation as a higher point than anything to do with an earthly love.
What is needed is some soul-searching. What are the ways that you have believed or perpetuated any one of these lies? The consequences of doing so can be disastrous. If you are married, are these sentiments you have allowed into your marriage? You are not doing you or your spouse any favors. If you are single, have you allowed these lies to discourage you or make you feel inadequate? Let me be clear. The only day that results in true heart-transforming change is the day when the only Savior with the power to do so calls you clean and forgiven, comes into your life, gives you His Spirit, gives you a place in His family, and gives you a promise of a forever future that He will make good on. That is the biggest turning point of our lives on earth, and something we all desperately need to relish more often. Because if we do not, we will be all the more susceptible to the lies our culture and Satan would have us believe. Additionally, we allow these themes to casually slip into our everyday conversations and infect those around us.
As always, thanks for joining the conversation! Tune in next week for a little chat about Fear and its best pal, Discontentment.
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 Hayes, Hunter. “I Want Crazy.” Hunter Hayes. Atlantic Records, 2013. Radio.
 The Band Perry. “Better Dig Two.” Pioneer. Republic Nashville, 2012. Radio.
 Swift, Taylor. “Mine.” Speak Now. Big Machine Records, 2010. Radio.
 Becker, Ernest. The Denial of Death. New York: Free Press. 1973. p.160.
 Keller, Tim. The Meaning of Marriage. London: Houder & Stoughton Ltd. 2011. p. 41
 Kendall, Jackie and Debby Jones. Lady in Waiting. Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. 2014. p. 30.
 Kendall, p. 31