I've been told there's some great worship music on secular radio stations. And up until recently, I never understood that.
Let me explain: Some Christians can worship God while listening to a secular tune. In other words, a song that isn't written and performed by a Christian group. A song without any lyrics about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. Or even words like "cross," "Bible," or "savior." Whoa, Nelly!
As I mentioned, I previous believed this was quite impossible.
MercyMe, Steven Curtis Chapman, Avalon, Rebecca St. James. They can all take me to the throne.
But a mainstream artist? A Top 40, non-Christian artist? Never.
Or so I thought.
I first heard about this concept when I was a young lass of about 15. Jim, a volunteer youth leader at my church, said he loved to worship to a Heart song, "Alone." Jim said it was like God's love song, expressing how God longs for us to have a singular relationship with him. As a teenager, I found this incredibly goofy. I listened to "Alone" and didn't hear any of that.
Through the years, I heard other people mention their love of secular "worship" songs. Then a few years ago, I walked into a church and recognized a familiar tune being played by the worship team:
However far away ... I will always love you ...
Huh? They were playing a secular song?!?
However long I stay ... I will always love you ...
During worship time! In a Sunday service!
Whatever words I say ... I will always love you. I will always love you.
It was The Cure's "Lovesong." People were raising their hands and lifting their voices in full praise-and-worship mode. And while the song didn't rouse any deep emotional response in my heart, I started to get it. I saw how people were connecting God's love with this secular song--and turning it into a worship song.
Jump forward a few months. Hoobastank's song "The Reason" was playing on the radio every five minutes. The first few times I heard the song, I had no idea what they were singing about. You know what I mean--when a song comes on your car radio that you absolutely love, and you sing along regardless of whether you know the real lyrics. It's like a really bad jazz scat: "Mm bah ahn um dah love ya ... ohh wee doo da I dooo ... wah wah doo nah nah LOVE YA!"
I enjoyed the song so much, I decided to look up the lyrics on the Internet. It almost knocked the breath out of me:
I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And the reason is you
At that moment, Hoobastank took me to the throne in a way I'd never before experienced. I understood completely what Jim had been talking about with his Heart song, why the people in that church had raised their hands to "Lovesong."
"The Reason," a secular love song, was pouring out words I wanted to say to God.
Tears slid down my cheeks as I sang each line softly, with every word directed up to God. "The Reason" is about letting down the person you love most, hurting them horribly. Yet they give you another chance, and you're ready to change because you love them so much. It was my life experience to a T.
So I don't make fun of people anymore when they say they're worshiping to a secular song. At least, I try not to. I sometimes think about Jim crooning to "Alone" in his pitchy, crackling voice, and it makes me grin. It's a funny--and beautiful--picture in my mind.
1) Is there a secular song that speaks deeply to you about your relationship with God? Why does it move you?
2) Have you ever dismissed someone else's spiritual experience as silly or odd? Why do you think you dismissed it (e.g. you didn't understand, didn't think it was an experience you'd want or could have personally)?
3) What are some of your favorite activities (e.g. surfing the Internet, talking on the phone, journaling, hiking, listening to music)? These may be great ways for you to spend time with God.
For example, if you enjoy talking on the phone, make a "prayer appointment" with a friend, and pray for each other over the line. If you like using your computer, look for online devotions that interest you. Here are some sites to check out:
For women: todayschristianwoman.com
For men: menofintegrity.net
For families: www.todays-christian.com
For teens: igniteyourfaith.com