Sunday, March 05, 2017

Above All

Michael W. Smith made the song popular -- Above All.
Above All
by Lenny LeBlanc and Paul Baloche © 1995 Integrity Music

Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature, and all created things
Above all wisdom, and all the ways of man
You were here, before the world began

Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders, the world has ever known
Above all wealth, and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what You're worth

Crucified, laid behind a stone
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose, trampled on the ground
You took the fall, and thought of me
Above all.
Really great song. Talks about how Christ was above all -- all powers, all created things, all wisdom, even time. And, yet, He became a man and died on my behalf "And thought of me above all." It's a wonderfully warm song. An actual tear-jerker, really. That the One who was above all would die for me, would think of me above everyone and everything else ... that's ... well, amazing.

But is it right?

This is, to me, a prime example of our modern "me" Christianity. We appear to be missing the point. We appear to believe that it's all about us. We're amazed at His grace that saves sinners from eternal torment and we're delighted that He would deign to die for us and attribute to us His righteousness and call us sons, fellow heirs. It's all truly amazing. It really is. That isn't the mistake. The point is in thinking that it's about us.

Paul told the Roman Christians that "from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." (Rom 11:36) He told the Colossians "all things have been created through Him and for Him." (Col 1:16) He told Titus that Christ "gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2:14) Further we are commanded "whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31) Would it make sense, then, that the Son of God would violate God's own command -- God's own nature -- to do something other than to the glory of God? It would seem to me, then, that the Bible is abundantly clear that it's all about Him, not us. If we wanted to be accurate in that Michael W. Smith song, we'd have to say, "He thought of Himself above all." But, of course, that doesn't have the same ring, the same feel, the same impact.

And therein lies the problem. Our default setting is "me above all". The notion that He thought of me above all, then, feeds right into that setting. It is, unfortunately, our default sin nature setting. Because reality would demand that the Ultimate God would think of what was right above all every time ... and that would be Him.

In fact, this ends up actually more amazing than "He thought of me above all." You see, the Father, according to the plan laid out before time began (Titus 1:2) sent His Son to die to save creatures He made in order that they would become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29) to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph 1:5-6). The more amazing thing is that God sent His Son to die on our behalf to save us for His glory. The amazing thing is that He finds us useful to the only important mission of the universe -- the praise of His glory.

Does He love us? Certainly. Did He die to save us? Absolutely. Does He think of us? No doubt. Value us? Surely. But we are not the end. We are the means. He loves us for the glory we can give Him because He deserves all glory. He grooms us for the glory we can give Him because He deserves all glory. And we could receive no higher honor than to be given the opportunity to shine to His glory.

Walt Harrah offered a modified version of the song. I think he nails it perfectly
Above All

Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what you're worth

Crucified, laid behind a stone
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Son of God, Lamb for sinners slain
Exalted Lord, we worship you
above all.
Now that's the way we should sing it.

3 comments:

Craig said...

I like the edited version. This song is a great example of modern Christianity in that the majority of the text is reasonably good theology and God focused and there's just that one part that takes it off in the wrong direction. I completely agree that there is a "me" (read humanity) focus to much of modern Christianity that runs counter to scripture.

This morning in Sunday School we were talking about how modern society is so wrapped up in individual "rights" to the point that the greatest wrong is to impinge on someone's rights. Yet, the Biblical ideal of community is to voluntarily lay aside ones individual rights, in order to further the Kingdom of God. In fact, it's to follow God's law instead of asserting ones rights.

Lots of people bag on Rick Warren, but he got it exactly right on the first page of The Purpose Driven Life when he said, "It's not about you.". For too many of us, it's just the opposite.

Danny Wright said...

I picked up on that too.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Yep, I despise CCM the way it somehow always ends up about "me" or "I" -- nice correction!