Justice and Praise
I have only gradually come to acceptance and appreciation of some “contemporary” Christian music. I was raised on the hymns of Charles Wesley, Isaac Watts, and a few others. Their lyrics and poetry nurtured me into faith and still sustain me through joys and crises to the present day.
The so-called “contemporary” Christian music has always seemed too self-serving to me, too much a love fest between me and Jesus. However, I have slowly begun to listen more carefully to the words and lyrics of this music. And I have found some very positive expressions of the Faith in those words.
A few weeks ago, one such example struck me as very appropriate and instructive. The words were these:
“Let justice and praise become my embrace.”
I heard very little else in that particular song as I reflected upon the power of those simple words.
I recalled the words of the prophet Micah: What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. And I remembered again that “justice” is the #1 priority for that prophet. He speaks of “doing justice” first!
I remember the beatitude of Jesus, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” And I remember the alternate translation of that passage: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to see the right [justice] prevail…”
I remembered the teaching of John Wesley who enjoined both “works of piety” and “works of mercy.” And out of that Wesleyan tradition, the best definition I know of Christian discipleship: “to bear witness to Jesus in the world through acts of worship, devotion, compassion, and justice under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
So: the words “Let justice and praise become my embrace” suddenly became a profound theological expression of the essence of the Christian life! I am to be an advocate for justice in all things AND live a life of unending praise toward God!
Along the way in all of this I also remembered that sometimes the so called “traditional” hymnody of my heritage can be a bit self-serving:
“I come to the garden alone….and he walks with me and he
talks with me and he tells me I am his own.”
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.”
The result: I will listen more closely to various offerings of newer faith-based music in my own journey. (Even if I can’t sing the melodies!) And I will seek to be more faithful in a life of justice and praise throughout my days.
Effective and fruitful leadership might consider these two pillars of discipleship as a worthy teaching model and a faithful example.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013