Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How He Loves Us

I'm pretty excited about a concert coming to Discovery Church in Orlando next Friday (8/27). John Mark McMillan has quickly become one of my favorite singer/songwriters. Now, I get that his style might not be your cup of tea—his has an alternative/progressive country/rock sound to it. I love it, personally. And, I especially love the fact that it's unique. He's not trying to redo the top 40 for a Christian audience.

Most of John Mark's music is not really worship music; at least not music fit for congregational worship. I think he refers to it as "gospel" now-a-days, but most of his songs are more like artistic expressions of the mysteries of God, and the hope he offers. His influences seem to be people like Dylan, Springsteen, and some of the Alt. Country bands of the last two decades, rather than the wave of pop-sounding worship songs that swept the Christian music scene in the new millennium. That said, McMillian is best known for a song that we sing on Sunday mornings at Safeharbor from time to time. When David Crowder covered it in 2009, churches across the world started singing it too. It's a song that either turns you off, or causes your heart to swell in appreciation for the love of God. Here's the story behind that song:

For a while, I was turned off by the reference to a "sloppy wet kiss" in this song. That is, until I heard about the meaning behind it and the emotional birthplace of those lyrics. (There's actually much more to the story behind that song than what is relayed in this video, but I'll save it for another time.) McMillan has said that "gory mess" is probably a more appropriate lyric, "but it didn't have the same ring to it." His point: God loves us despite our failures, despite our awkwardness, despite our ugliness. His reaching down into humanity is beautiful and amazing, even if a little sloppy due to the mess we've made. What I want you to notice in the video, however, is the people singing at the end. John Mark looks like a mess—I think that's intentional; it's how he sees himself and the world—seriously flawed. But check out the young adults in the background. They need to be reminded of God's love. That, despite the mess they've made, God's love can turn their lives into something good.

Yesterday, I talked to someone who needed to hear that message. I need to hear it too. God loves us—even the music geeks and pastors. God loves us—even the imperfect parents. God loves us—even those who have barely survived a wreck of a marriage. God loves us—the tired and poor. God loves us—even the enslaved addict. God loves us—even the self-righteous. God loves us—even the disciple who's grown apathetic. God loves us—even the disciple who is being reinvented. God loves us—even the retired and the tired. God loves us—even the complainers. God loves us—even the confused and disappointed. Yes, you too—as you sit and read cynically, wanting to believe. Yeah, he loves us...all.

So, the song gets a little repetitive at the end. Maybe we need that. Maybe we're hard to convince. "Yeah, he loves us. Oh, how he loves us. Oh, how he loves us. Oh, how he loves us." He loves us. He loves us. He loves us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. --Romans 5:8

~A Loved Disciple


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