Last year I was sat in a church in the middle of the Yorkshire countryside - this place was known for a move of God’s Spirit that happened in the 1960’s & 70’s. During that time they led hundreds to the Lord, there were healings and many people were transformed by the love of Jesus. Those who encountered God then went on to plant churches and ministries across the world.
I sat there as the leader of the church (now in his late 80s) led us in worship with a band of elderly people - armed with squeeze boxes, banjos, rainbow guitar straps (and of course tambourines). Being a music lover and someone who appreciates the new things of God it was stylistically challenging but I couldn’t help but notice there was something they had in God that I didn’t have.
Their lives were displaying true fulfilment and joy in the Lord. They had truly encountered Jesus in a real way and their worship was reflecting it.
Travelling up to Scotland with Rivers & Robots we were listening to a mainstream Christian playlist on Spotify and I quickly noticed that almost every song had verses covering serious themes of trials, personal struggles and cries of lament. There’s nothing wrong with being honest but when that becomes the main theme I would suggest it reflects where the heart is.
If the theme of the old guys with the banjos was joy and peace, it would seem (from listening to the playlist) that our theme was the trials of life, (difficulties, storms, valleys, mountains..) Maybe in our quest for “being real” we’ve lost the art of simplicity. Could it be that we’ve taken our eyes off Jesus and placed our focus on the winds and waves?
I’m not suggesting we ignore the trials - I know following Jesus isn’t always an easy road. However Jesus did tell us, “I have come that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” I believe that God doesn’t want us to just survive life, He wants us to thrive. I feel if there’s one theme we should return to as songwriters it’s the goodness of God - and the benefits that come from a relationship with Him.
I have invested the last few years of my life to see a new generation of musicians and artists around the world rise up and use their gifts to glorify Jesus. I believe strongly that the world needs to hear our voice and our expression and I believe that a generation that catches His heart and learns to find their fulfilment in Jesus will transform the world.
What the world needs to see is Christians who know God and live fulfilled lives in right relationship with Him.
Now is the time for a new theme. It’s time to enjoy God again - to lift our eyes, beyond our situations and circumstances to the one who alone can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.
God wants to fill you with His joy, “that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” As you allow Him to fill you with His joy and enjoy Him, your life will in turn become a truer reflection of His goodness to the world around you.