One of the results of my ongoing spiritual formation is an awareness of the importance of discipleship; specifically discipleship as a visible practice that manifests social and political conclusions. This has also led to the observation that the majority of contemporary worship songwriters are oblivious to the responsibility the church has towards “making disciples.” Or stated more bluntly, most contemporary worship songs, and consequently most American evangelicals, are so consumed with internal/personal spirituality that it borders on narcissism.
This is not to say that “personal faith” is unimportant, as Augustine’s Confessions attests, or that there aren’t exceptions to my generalization—the work of Derek Webb comes to mind as does the lesser known Tom Wuest—but simply that the predominant view of contemporary worship represents an incomplete picture of what it means to be Christian.
To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of it’s suffering I do drink
Of it’s work I do sing
For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just
At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered
As I was singing “Sweetly Broken” I kept coming back to the question, “what does it mean to be a disciple of a God who taught that love and justice are best expressed as willful submission to death on a cross?” As a follower of Christ, in what ways am I called to be “sweetly broken, wholly surrendered?”
As worship continued my thoughts turned to Tom Fox, a Christian who was killed in Iraq in 2005 while serving as a peace activist. I later found the following excerpt from one of his last journal entries:
We are throwing ourselves open to the possibility of God’s grace bringing some rays of light to the shadowy landscape that is Iraq. We are letting ourselves be guided by something that is beyond rational, intellectual analysis. (emphasis mine)
I wonder what the situation in Iraq might look like today if evangelicals in America correctly understood the role of discipleship in the life of faith. I wish more worship music communicated a spirituality that could actually be embodied by the church, rather than perpetuating a spirituality that is trite and superficial.
Do you agree that contemporary worship music is overwhelmingly self-centered, and if so, what are some ways you think the church can correct this imbalance?
UPDATE: I also recommend reading Inhabitatio Dei’s excellent post, “The Metaphysics of Descipleship.”