For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Singing in the Choir

As Americans, we don't like singing in the choir.  By that, I mean that for the most part, we're usually so enamored with ourselves, that we'd rather be the soloist out front, getting all the attention, rather than be content to sing in the “background.”

I confess that I like to watch some of the “talent shows” on television these days.  And one of the recurring stories you hear about singers is that they've been singing backups for this or that artist, and now they want their turn in the spotlight.  Or they've been with a band for some time, but now they want to be on their own. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to condemn folks for wanting to “better their career” and so on.  Some of these folks are amazing talents, and I love hearing them sing.  But it's the attitude behind it all that sometimes reflects the very self-centered, individualistic epidemic in our country.

This is why social media is such a big deal.  Trying to get our voice out there, hear our opinions above all the others.  Drawing attention to ourselves.  I realize the hypocrisy of writing about this on a blog that I plan to then share on social media, but we'll just try to ignore that for the moment.  (insert smiley face)

Another confession, I found myself doing something very similar recently.  I'm no singer, but I had the wonderful opportunity to contribute to this amazing song.  Ross King is an amazing song writer.  He is the author of Hallelujah for the Cross, recorded by several artists; Clear the Stage, popularized by Jimmy Needham; More Now, recorded by Carrollton; and dozens of his own amazing recordings.  Recently he began work on a new record to be “crowd funded” at Kickstarter.  Being a fan, I chipped in.

That's where the fun started.  He sent out a note to backers of the project that if we wanted to record a short vocal part, he would add it to the “choir” portion on one song.  Again, I'm not a singer, but this sounded too fun to pass up.  So Mr. King sent me a recording of the part, I recorded me singing it, sent it off, and he added me to the roughly 50 voice choir made up of others who did the same thing.  Fun, right? 
Well, the big day arrives when he sends out an advance copy of the song, which is an amazing song.  You can get it here on Amazon.  Or you can look up an illegal copy on Youtube, probably.  But, seriously, go buy it.  It's so worth the 99 cents.  But here's the deal.  When I listened to it at first, I wasn't listening to how great the song was.  I was listening for the “choir.”  And even though I knew there was no way I would hear myself, I tried anyway.  I evenly selfishly thought, “Ooh, I think I hear me!”  Stupid, right?

After doing that a couple times, conviction set in, and I realized how dumb that was.  First of all, no one is going to ruin a perfectly good song by allowing my voice to stand out.  Second, this isn't my song.  This is Ross King's song.  He has something to say, and he's the one saying it.  I just got to be in the background.  For fun.  For his purposes.  It's about Ross and about his song.

And by the way, it's an amazing song with an amazing message.  It's a great word of encouragement to those struggling in life, reminding us that “in the darkness, you are not alone; There is a presence that will not let you go; Every tear that you have cried, every trial you known, He's known it're in good company.”  What an incredible reminder of the grace of God.  And how foolish of me to try and make it about me.

Wow.  I suddenly realized just how much this all applies to our spiritual life.  American Christianity is really focused on hearing our own voice.  We want church to be about us, about our likes and dislikes, about what makes us happy.  We want the spotlight on us.  Even in our teaching of the Word of God, we want to be sure that it says what I want, and if it says something different, well, we all know what needs to change.

The world around us wants the same thing.  They don't want to hear the truth of God's Word.  If they hear the Bible at all, they want to hear a reflection of their own voice, not the voice of God speaking to their true need.  But that's not how it works.

Folks, Scripture is the voice of God.  It's His song.  It's His message.  We just get sing background.  For His purposes.  It's about Jesus and His song, His Word, His will and way, for His glory.  It's about a God of perfection who is rightly offended by our sin, and in His perfection He must punish that sin.  But also about a God of grace who sends His own Son to suffer that punishment in our place.  His message is a call to repentance, a call to surrender, a call to salvation and eternal life and holiness.  How foolish of me to try and make it about me.

Oh, we need to be reminded of this often.  We get so caught up in hearing our voice, wanting to be at the center of attention, that we forget we're just the “choir” in the background of the song of the ages. We need to be listening for His voice, and stop trying to hear our own!

So, Mr. King, thank you for this beautiful song, and forgive me for trying to think of myself instead of the beauty of your message.  And, Lord, thank You for Your glorious message of Grace, help me to proclaim the truth of it faithfully, and forgive me for ever thinking of myself instead of the beauty of Your message. 

Update:  Ross King officially released a lyric video of the song, so now you can listen "legally" on youtube.  Here it is.

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