At the library, I was reading last month’s Christianity Today. The last page was a commentary by Chuck Colson. He writes:
When church music directors lead congregations in singing contemporary Christian music, I often listen stoically with teeth clenched. But one Sunday morning, I cracked. We'd been led through endless repetitions of a meaningless ditty called "Draw Me Close to You," which has zero theological content and could just as easily be sung in any nightclub. When I thought it was finally and mercifully over, the music leader beamed. "Let's sing that again, shall we?" he asked. "No!" I shouted, loudly enough to send heads all around me spinning while my wife, Patty, cringed.
These are the lyrics :
Colson is right to say there are no theological truths being proclaimed in the lyrics. But the chorus itself, singing a declaration to the Lord, is a theological truth, the living truth of a living relationship between the singer and his Lord. God's good news is about relationship, not religion. And postmodern chorus-singing believers help us live that out, despite what modern hymn-huggers may think of them.
Seems the old crowd needs a written postmodern theology in order to understand but as soon as you get one down on paper, you’ve missed the point. The song itself is exegetical, parsing the heart; and the gathering of saints is itself an act of proclaiming truth. I get more out of closing my eyes and singing to Jesus than I ever did parsing Greek verbs (sorry).
There's a time to put away books and have God melt our hearts. Book truths are linear, and they keep theology abstract. But THE truth, eternal truth that will outlast libraries and schools, is personal – very, very personal – a person, in fact. And that truth brings theology close, pouring it into my life, making it inseparable from how I live. Paul calls that being a living letter.
Even Ravi Zacharias, our scholar of scholars, esteems living truth over paper truth. He tells the story on radio of coming home to see his two-year-old daughter standing there looking at him. They lock eyes and smile, and she runs to hug him. He’s floored. He says there was more truth in that silent moment than in all the theological books he had ever read or studied on the meaning of love.
It's the same with God. We can proclaim all we know about Him but the power is in knowing Him. I suggest Dr. Colson (or you) put the same song (or similar) on repeat. Keep playing it and singing it until you forget to count the lines, until the words become your genuine prayer. Then you won't just be acknowledging truth, you'll be in it. Connecting. And you'll learn from the poets what theologians can't explain.
Not that they won't try...