I love music. Well…, in the interest of full disclosure, I should qualify that statement a bit and admit right up front that I’m probably a little opinionated regarding that subject. What I mean is that I love music that is performed well and that falls within my limited assessment of what constitutes good music. It’s not that I harbor a personal bias against people who, for some reason, insist that certain strange and unnatural noises should be considered musical. I just don’t get whatever it is that they see in it. It’s like people who eat things from the ocean that look like giant bugs in medieval armor. I can’t imagine how hungry the poor guy must have been who first looked at one of those things and thought, “Ahh… lunch!” I’d be trying to stomp on it rather than looking for a pot to cook it in. They have way too many legs, they walk funny, they have giant pincers on both arms, and they live where people can’t breathe. That ought to be enough to send reasonable folks looking for a bowl of beans and some cornbread.
A Missing Element ~
But in a more serious and a bit less critical vein, there’s a missing element in the music world that cries out for our consideration as we make our way through the remainder of “Love Month, 2021”. There’s a common theme that weaves its way into every musical classification and genre. We find it not only in the latest productions streaming their way through the digital airwaves, but in centuries-old Celtic folk songs, as well.. Whether it’s a country dude singing about a girl who makes his heart wobble like a wheel on his pickup truck with three missing lug nuts, or some hip hop group lamenting about the fallout from their latest failed hookup attempt, if music is on the menu, then “love” is a featured dish.
It’s not surprising to anyone that love finds its way into all kinds of music, especially Christian music. Overwhelming emotions are commonplace when people repent of their sins and come to Jesus for cleansing and salvation. Every day, people all over the world experience that rush of boundless joy that often comes when sin’s shackles fall away and they realize they’ve been set free forever. Some who attempt to share that experience find that mere words alone are woefully inadequate. As they struggle to express the inexpressible, melodies suddenly join in and words become lyrics as an overflowing heart begins to sing and another love song to Jesus is born.
No Poetic Juices Stirring ~
But as grand as that is, there’s another expression of God’s love that isn’t so prone to stir the poetic juices in the hearts of would-be songwriters. Being on the receiving end of this particular expression of God’s love doesn’t feel so uplifting, Yet what it lacks in lyrics, it makes up for in its powerful contribution to our overall welfare. The inspired writer of Hebrews reminded those who were harboring attitudes unacceptable to God that they(??) needed to remember that there is more than one way His love is applied. He said:
…And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”
If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5–11 NKJV)
These verses may not make it to the list of our favorite passages, but maybe they should. First, they issue a protective warning that all of us should heed. Our Father will never stop loving us, but that love also ensures that He will also never stop monitoring our attitudes and behavior. Our behavioral choices can’t eliminate His love for us, but it can influence how that love is applied. He’s our Father, but He’s also our Good Shepherd, and if one of His sheep becomes persistently self-willed, rebellious, and disobedient, He may decide to apply His staff in ways that aren’t pleasant. The Father’s objective is never simply to punish by inflicting pain. Whether applied to individuals, churches, or nations, unpleasant consequences can be a powerful tool to teach unforgettable lessons about the cost of adopting lifestyles that deny our heritage, repudiate our claims of faith, and demean the integrity of the One we were sent to serve. The hard lessons He sends may not be greeted with thanksgiving, but our Father’s intent in applying them is something to treasure and celebrate.
An Objective Worth Celebrating ~
Our Father is committed to our ultimate perfection, and nothing will stop Him from eventually completing that task. But His interest isn’t confined to the end of our journey alone. He is actively involved here and now in moving us toward the completed version of all He created us to be. His chastising discipline is not applied to hurt us. It’s designed to make us more like Him, and there is no higher goal or grander objective we could have. Wanting us to be a partaker of His holiness doesn’t mean that God wants us to act like we’re having some weird, religiously induced psychotic event. It means that He wants our lives to be distinctively different. He wants us to exhibit and enjoy a life free from the violence, chaos, and destruction that goes on in the world around us. He wants to help us become spiritually stronger, wiser, more loving, more generous, more compassionate, more productive, more dependable, more morally and relationally stable, and happier than those who don’t know Him. To resist His discipline is to resist the love that wants that for us.
Those of us who know what the pig pen feels like weren’t moved to pen a song about how it felt, but coming home was different. When the Father we had betrayed, and whose love we had scorned, cleansed the filth clinging to us and wrapped his arms around us again, we found a song we’ll never stop singing. But let’s never forget that if His love hadn’t followed us to the pig pen, there would have been no coming home . . . Maybe someone should write a love song about that.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “As we struggle to express the inexpressible joy of being set free forever mere words are woefully inadequate. Melodies suddenly join in and words become lyrics as an overflowing heart begins to sing and another love song to Jesus is born.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Unpleasant consequences can be a powerful tool to teach unforgettable lessons about the cost of adopting lifestyles that deny our heritage, repudiate our claims of faith, and demean the integrity of the One we were sent to serve.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “God’s chastising discipline is not applied to hurt us, but to make us more like Him, and there is no higher we could have. Wanting us to be a partaker of His holiness means that He wants our lives to be distinctively different.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “When the Father we had betrayed, and whose love we had scorned, cleansed the filth clinging to us and wrapped his arms around us again, we found a song we’ll never stop singing.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “To resist God’s discipline is to resist His love. Let’s never forget that if God’s love hadn’t followed us to the pig pen, there would have been no coming home . . . Maybe someone should write a love song about that.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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