Are you as alive as you should be?
Do you ever feel like the gospel message doesn't matter? Like it's just a bunch of empty facts?
Ever feel unmoved when people talk of Christ dying on the cross?
Me too. So does every Christian who goes to your church.
We are sinners, predisposed to be insensible to the glory of God. We don't feel as we should even when it is expressed profoundly, even when we hear about the life, death and resurrection of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. Our hearts respond: “meh”. We are insensible sinners.
Why can’t I feel it?
I suspect the root of the problem is because our rebel hearts harbor a desire to be God. That is the fantasy we desperately cling to. But when the evidence piles up and shows that we are not in control and there's nothing we can do about it, our response is to close down our senses, our awareness, our appreciation.
Truth is the enemy of the "fig-leaf fantasy" that we've tried to construct around ourselves. We tune in to anything that will prop up our fantasy - anything that makes us feel justified or important… and we tune out the rest.
God is at work
But, thank Christ! God’s spirit now works in us, the master craftsman, wielding many tools to transform that situation.
He is engaged in the process of making us come fully alive - carefully exposing us to Things As They Really Are, because in the light of the gospel, we no longer need to fear Truth. He wants to help us to feel again, to come fully alive and grasp His glory.
We have a role
What’s more, God invites us as his apprentices to take part in that work which will one day be complete.
That’s the job that the church's musicians and songwriters are engaged in. We use our skills to take the Good News and help others (and ourselves) to feel why it is good. To let it resonate. We want to capture and distill the essence of some beautiful truth, and share that with our brothers and sisters.
Our failing fantasies
Don't be tempted by the promises of your former way of life.
Techniques which indulge the "worship-the-leader" fantasy, or the "choose-your-own-interpretation" fantasy. Don't get sidetracked trying to emulate what it felt like when you last experienced something profoundly. It's a temptation - "hey, if we can bottle this experience, we won't even need God to show up!" But it won't ring true.
Our self-created fantasies can't sustain us. If we pursue them to their conclusion, we will find ourselves in hell.
Rather, let your goal be to communicate glorious, gospel-enlightened truth at all times.
Reality is better
Understand that all Christians have this issue to wrestle with. We are to wake from our vague daydreams and then rouse others. The role you have when leading worship, or writing for church singing is just one (wonderful) opportunity to show people where the beauty lies.
It’s a matter of communication. We are communicators. We have two main communication tools at our disposal: words and music.
If we learn to be clear and articulate in both of these languages we will find God uses us to speak the truth with power.
So don’t underestimate this opportunity. Don’t marginalize its importance.
Next time you sit down to write a song, or plan a worship set… Reflect on the needs and appetites we have: the need to be loved, our desire to experience pleasure, to feel significant. Expose and avoid the pitiful ways in which we try to satisfy these desires in our own fantasy worlds. Then show how God satisfies them in a far more beautiful and complete way, through the gospel of Jesus.
This is the truth - He is The Truth - we are trying to communicate.
Can you feel it?
Greg de Blieck is a part of the New Scottish Hymns project, seeking to develop hymn-writers for a new generation. Follow him on his blog at http://www.newscottishhymns.com/