There is a context and a story to everything. Every word spoken, every situation in life has a context and story that might not be as 'face value' as it seems. Just like life, good art and music also have a context and a story. A good artist includes ideas and themes to unwrap that aren’t ‘face value’, and will use such rhetorical devices as metaphors and similes to achieve this. And, when you think about it, doesn’t language just fall apart when trying to explain God? Hence why it is so important to say that God can be like this or that or that God is this or that, when at ‘face value’ He might not be. But there is greater depth of meaning and mystery inside of these devices.
Jesus loves me.
He loves like a hurricane, I am a tree. (John Mark McMillan)
My hope is that as each person walks into Forefront, they remain thoughtful, not blindly taking everything ‘by faith’ but thinking about the words that are sung, the message that is spoken, and how these elements are speaking to them in ways that might not be as ‘face value’ as they seem.
If we are just slaves to another person’s ideas or thoughts then how can we expect to have our own epiphanies? I think it is a dangerous place to be in to walk into church expecting that everything will be cut and dry, black and white, face value, and easy to explain. Isn’t God mysterious? Can we fully explain him?
Which is why….
I love John Mark McMillan and his lyrics.
Check out these lyrics from his song Guns/Napoleon. At face value, sure they may seem rather violent (By the way, how often do we sing “we thank you for the cross” – one of the most violent forms of torture ever invented and we don’t even bat an eyelid. We have become numb to the violence of that story.), but dig deep. What do these lyrics mean to you?
Last Sunday at Forefront Brooklyn, Travis spoke about the freedom from ego:
“That we will abandon the hope that we place in our own spiritual effort and expertise and the impressive resume of personal accomplishments and cry out for Jesus.”
For me, I like to think of the “guns” in this song as being my ego. That which I need to lay down in order to have the space to see what God is already doing around me.
It’s too easy to say "I don’t understand it." For us to sing the same ‘face value’ phrases forever seems too mindless to me. I don’t think God created us to be mindless creatures. Doesn’t God continually draw us in to see new sides of Him, new ways of thinking about Her, new ways of seeing Them at work? Let's find new ways to sing about the Great Creator.