The other day, I heard a beautiful worship song. It was penned by a brilliant songwriter, known the world over. It displayed the poignancy that brilliant songwriting does, that seemingly casual ability to hit on a tune so simple as to be unforgettable, and yet somehow so superior that most of us could never come with anything half as good. It was gorgeous.
Its lyrics were intimate and personal, and yet so unpretentious. They called out, “My sweet Lord, my sweet Lord…” with a humble and heartfelt yearning, real praise and a sense of adoration. That phrase was repeated over and over, and then the yearning expanded with a real cry, “I really want to know you! I really want to be with you! I really want to see you!” Not much more to it, that was the bulk of the song, repeating the simple phrases of love and longing over and over.
Toward the end, the writer finally introduced a new phrase, as the song entered the sort of ecstatic climax so familiar to our generation of church-goers and/or pop musicians. That new phrase, calling out the name that was so to be praised, was this, “Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!” The song was, “My Sweet Lord,” by George Harrison of the Beatles, in adoration of his savior and guru, Krishna. George’s life at the time was a melee of music, hindu spirituality, (including yoga and meditation) psychedelic drugs, and sexual infidelity. He was truly devoted to his lord, and believed with all his heart. So much so that he had his ashes scattered in rivers in India at his death. He was a real proponent of unity, saying, “All religions are branches of one big tree. It doesn’t matter what you call Him just as long as you call.”
Minus the “hare krishna” refrain, his song could easily be one sung in churches on Sunday morning, or on Christian radio. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it already is. Because as I said in my previous post, the tidal wave of apostasy that I believe is preparing to wash over the Western church (maybe the whole church?) has already sent little predecessors up to lap at our feet, not just to make us feel comfortable, but to actually excite us about that which is to come, with prophecies and expectations of massive harvest, global revival, ecumenical renewal (heard anybody talk about “unprecedented cooperation in the ‘Body of Christ'” lately?), and coming signs and wonders.
Big claims, I know… But consider this. What if instead of turning believers (and unbelievers) aside from the core doctrines of the faith, putting a gun to our heads and yelling, “Deny Christ! Reject His church! Break all unity! Start to hate and stop loving! Call him NOT-Lord!” what if the devil were a little smarter than that? What if he realized that he would need something more subtle to deceive the people of God, and his plan was actually to keep all the right words and phrases and doctrinal hashtags (#deityofchristforever, #Jesusrocksmyworld, #churchisthepeopleofGodcool,#virginbirthanddeathandresurrectionetcetera), but erode the reality so he could substitute a new meaning for the same old words? What if he offers a new Jesus? A different Lord? Institutions called church that bear little or no resemblance to anything described or prescribed in the New Testament? What if he creates a new version of love, totally disconnected from God’s love? (Side note: your children’s generation now believes that homosexuals “love” and Christians “hate.”)
What if he could substitute a sensual religion for the actual one? What if he offered us a form of godliness that denies its power? What he trains us to repeatedly invest in activities that feel like they change us, but don’t? What if the workouts burned, but the weight never came off? What if the boyfriend caresses, but the ring is never on the finger? What if the chemo doesn’t shrink the tumor? What if the tears are shed, but the life stays self-centered? What if the songs are sung, but object of them is a god of our own making? What if the teachings are moving, but nobody can remember what was said, because they are hearers, not doers (Jas. 1:22)? What if teens who used to dance at a club now dance in a church (that looks just like a club)? What if the altar call nabs 200 hundred who actually think that Christ has their life because of that trip down the aisle rather than because He has their life? What if people feel so stirred up that they devote themselves to the lord without ever having loved the truth, hated their sin, and taken up their cross…and their sacrifice turns out to be ashes in an Eastern river?
What if a generation is being trained to feel saved rather than to be saved?
What if rather than preaching a gospel unto repentance, a gospel is preached unto emotionally driven spiritual encounters?
What if Christian spirituality is becoming a degree or two removed from pagan spirituality, in which getting a moment to “center” oneself, to “meditate,” to “be with God,” to “touch the heart of God…” or any number of other phrases, is being taught and embraced at large as if it were what the Bible says? Here’s a song we can’t turn on our local Christian radio station without hearing…
And ooh there’s something ’bout the way Your sun shines on my face
It’s a love so true, I could never get enough of You
This feeling can’t be wrong, I’m about to get my worship on
Take me away, It’s a beautiful day yeah yeah yeah…
If you watch this gal sing, you gotta love her. It’s so fun, it’s so upbeat, it’s so effervescent. But it’s not Christianity! IT IS NOT THE GOSPEL. In fact, you could easily take out the word “worship” and substitute “party” or “flip-flops” or “weekend” or any number of fun ideas in there with no problem. And that should tell you something. It’s takin’ a break, gettin’ some sunshine and music and youth and feeling good. All of which I can get on other stations. I like youth, I like sunshine, I like bopping…but what does it mean that people would confuse it with Christ and think it has anything to do with worship?
What does it mean?
What does it mean that like George Harrison, Christians are doing yoga everywhere? Like George’s meditation, they are practicing “contemplative prayer” and seeking out the mystics for spiritual guidance, (as popular, or maybe more popular, in the evangelical church even than charismatic)? And like George’s whole-hearted worship, Christians are singing “Oh my sweet Lord!” being taught consistently by their music, and sometimes even their sermons (as I’ve shown with IHOPKC and Bethel), that their God wants them to feel His presence and encounter His love, or some such, rather than to be saved from their sin and obey the Lord Jesus.