Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. – Psalm 63:3-4
Last week, David Platt was in town during the launch of his latest book, Counter Culture. I was in a big auditorium, with my copy of that book in my hands, waiting for him to speak. It was mostly an older crowd, but then some of the attendees caught my eye. The hair was different – more interesting than I was expecting on the older people around me. There were these hip young people scattered about. Knit caps, plaid shirts, skinny jeans, cool boots.
It turns out there was a song-writers conference in town, and many of these guys were at this event. When Matt Papa, Aaron Blanton, Shelly E. Johnson, and others took the stage, I knew we were in for a colossal treat. We weren’t just going to hear an intro to David’s new book, we were going to worship together.
Corporate worship must look strange to those who do not worship God as Christ-followers. A group of people who may not even know each other that well, singing to God. As the worship continues, we sway, raise our arms up, closing our eyes…oblivious to those around us. Worship is taking in and savoring God in His fullness. It is remembering, reflecting on, and repeating what we have experienced of the glorious love of God.
Isn’t it amazing when someone does something for you totally unwarranted? We’ve had that experience of others doing kindnesses for us completely unexpected. Imagine if someone did something for you that only he could do. Wouldn’t you tell everyone about it? You might even want to sing about it, or write a song about it, if you had that gift.
In Jesus’ day, in the culture of what is now the Middle East, when someone went to debtors’ prison, the authorities wrote those debts over the door of their family’s house. What shame this must have brought on that person and the family. What hopelessness he must have felt imprisoned, with no way any longer to pay that debt…to make things right. What undeserved grace to have that debt paid by another.
If and when someone did pay the debt for the imprisoned one, the phrase “It is finished (paid)” was written across the debt notice. This is the exact same phrase that Jesus spoke from the cross as He gave His life for us – “It is finished (paid)!”
Our debt of sin must be reconciled to be in relationship with a holy God. Who can help us with it? No other human, because we all have the same debt of sin. Only Jesus, the sinless One, can offer Himself in our place, paying what we owe with His own perfect life.
That is something to sing about, and we who know the glorious experience of being redeemed by the Father can’t help but sing. Matt Papa and the other song-writers led us that day in several songs, two of which were Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery and It is Finished (see links below). We sang our hearts out to the Lord right there, not in church, not caring how we sounded.
Matt Papa, later last week, posted a blog on worshipping God. He said, “When we worship God first, we finally start to hear that sweeping, captivating music sung by the Great Composer himself. Hear Him whisper to your soul today, “I have set My love on you.””*
[We did get to hear David Platt talk about his book, and I’m reading it now. To have the opportunity to worship in that group that day was a great grace…another undeserved kindness of God in the life of His people.]