One song that I just LOVE is George Strait's Three Nails and a Cross. This is a powerful song that says so very much. It is a song about broken people DISCOVERING the grace and love of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. It is a song about redemption, grace, and hope. There are many reasons I love this one, appreciate this one. But one reason is that I love that it shows you don't have to be perfect before you go to Jesus. You go in your brokenness.
Compare this song with Tim McGraw's "Better Than I Used To Be" and there is no question which song has the better message. There are way too many "I's" in Better Than I Used To Be. There's no room for God. People might assume that Christianity is about self-improvement, about working your way to heaven, about trying to do your best and be your best and working and striving to change your life so it's acceptable to God. But. The truth is far different. Self-righteousness is not the answer. All the resolutions to "do better" and "be better" will never make you right with God.
George Strait's "I Found Jesus On the Jailhouse Floor" has also grown on me quite a bit! I think sometimes people might want to keep Jesus locked up inside the church, the sanctuary not wanting to think about Jesus being just as present, just as available in the "low" places--the jails, the prisons, the streets, the bars, etc. But people can find Jesus anywhere, anytime. He can be found by those that seek him. No person is too broken, too lost, too dirty or too guilty. For every need, there is grace--God's grace. "Now, if you’re in trouble friend, let me tell you what to do. I’ll tell you what he’s done for me. And I know what he’ll do for you. It makes no difference what you’ve done. You’ve a friend in the One that I adore. The King of Kings, Lord of Lords. I found Jesus on the jailhouse floor."
One song with troublesome lyrics/message is Kenny Chesney's "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven." Yes, I know it's just a song. But it's more of a party song, party anthem, way too relaxed about matters of the soul. Yes, I know it's just a song. But the philosophy that you can put off "getting right with God" until you've had all your fun, until you've lived this life to the fullest, that you can put off accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior until your death bed, is dangerous. This not now, not now, not now, not now, I couldn't possibly want Jesus in my life now--I want to have fun, I need to have fun, bring on the fun attitude is dangerous. Yes, I know it's just a song. But it's also bad theology. For one gets the impression again and again that GOOD WORKS get you into heaven, that the way into heaven isn't by way of the cross of Christ, but by people deciding to live right, to do the best they can. That by giving up the "women and whiskey and carrying on all night" that you can make amends with God, that heaven's gates will open wide and welcome you right on in. Here's what I mean,
I said, "Preacher maybe you didn't see me throw an extra twenty in the plate. There's one for everything I did last night and one to get me through today. Here's a ten to help you remember next time you got the good Lord's ear. Say I'm comin' but there ain't no hurry I'm having fun down here."Tell me does that not sound like he's trying to PAY his way into God's good graces. He's not lost, broken praying for God's mercy and grace. He's not seeking a relationship with the Savior at all. Beyond all that, it adds to the myth that being a Christian means never ever ever ever ever being happy, having fun, taking pleasure in this life. That to be a Christian is to be utterly miserable, because God never ever ever wants us to take delight in anything. But that's not true--not true at all. But here's the thing. This life does matter, and our relationship with Christ matters more than anything. The more we love Christ, the more we treasure Christ, the more we will WANT to experience the fullness of the presence. The more we'll remember that we're not home yet.
Most men hope to go to Heaven when they die; but few, it may be feared, take the trouble to consider whether they would enjoy Heaven if they got there. Heaven is essentially a holy place; its inhabitants are all holy; its occupations are all holy. To be really happy in Heaven, it is clear and plain that we must be somewhat trained and made ready for Heaven while we are on earth. ~ J.C. Ryle, HOLINESS
But alas, how little fit for Heaven are many who talk of going to Heaven when they die — while they manifestly have no saving faith and no real acquaintance with Christ. You give Christ no honor here. You have no communion with Him. You do not love Him. Alas, what could you do in Heaven? It would be no place for you. Its joys would be no joys for you. Its happiness would be a happiness into which you could not enter. Its employments would be a weariness and a burden to your heart. Oh, repent and change before it be too late! ~ J.C. Ryle, HOLINESS
We must come in the name of Jesus, standing on no other ground, pleading no other plea than this: "Christ died on the cross for the ungodly, and I trust in Him. Christ died for me, and I believe on Him." The garment of our Elder Brother, the righteousness of Christ, this is the only robe which can cover us, and enable us to stand in the light of Heaven without shame. The name of Jesus is the only name by which we shall obtain an entrance through the gate of eternal glory. If we come to that gate in our own names, we are lost, we shall not be admitted, we shall knock in vain. If we come in the name of Jesus, it is a passport and shibboleth, and we shall enter and live. The mark of the blood of Christ is the only mark that can save us from destruction. When the angels are separating the children of Adam in the last day, if we are not found marked with that atoning blood — we had better never have been born. Oh, let us never forget that Christ must be all to that soul who would be justified! We must be content to go to Heaven as beggars, saved by free grace, simply as believers in Jesus, or we shall never be saved at all. ~ J.C. Ryle, HOLINESSYes, it's just a song. But as the song concludes, "I think I speak for the crowd." That is what is so worrisome! The thought that this sums up what real people really, truly believe.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible