In the first part of this two part blog, I wrote about music often considered dangerous by the christian marketplace and suggested that it might be more dangerous to allow the marketplace to determine what is dangerous in the first place.
I also suggested that some of the songs we sing in church are contributing to the sluggishness of many church-goers. I want to be clear here that I am not making a sweeping judgement of ‘church music’ as a whole. I happen to really enjoy a great deal of church music. In this case, the sweeping judgement is not only about the particular songs we sing or listen to, but at least as much about our ability to actually hear what we are listening to.
So, just as it would greatly benefit listeners to take a long look at the lyrical content (and musical craftsmanship) of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” or The National’s “High Violet,” it would be equally beneficial to take a look at some of the songs churches are already singing and are familiar with. There are some dangerous songs in rotation Sunday mornings.
“In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song.”
I’ve sung this or led this song well over one hundred times and it wasn’t until reading Brian J. Walsh’s “Colossians Remixed” that I connected some dots regarding the claim Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend make with the song.
Jesus Christ’s exclusive claim of Lordship (to which the song is referring) stood against the claims of Roman leadership and supremacy. The community in Colossae (to whom Paul’s letter was written) knew that claiming Jesus was “the image of the invisible God” and that “He is before all things.. in Him all things hold together” would fly in the face of Roman and power. Walsh writes in Colossians Remixed that
“Proclaiming a lord other that Caesar would result in immediate imprisonment and a closer view of imperial games than anyone would want… a threat to the empire.”
The obvious question here is “Does the exclusive claim to hope only in Jesus sincerely mean something when we sing it?” Because if the answer is yes, that’s an awfully dangerous thing to claim. The Supremacy of Christ is a threat to all else. Our comfort, our politics, our career path, etc.. And yet how often have I sung that it is “in Christ alone” that my hope is found but not considered the very real consequences of such a statement?