I'm going back and forth. Lately I've been closer to the side of the opinion that certain songs are not appropriate during worship. Songs like "My Beloved" or "Crucified" have lyrics which proclaim that I am His beloved and that above all creation He died for me. These words can seem to be quite egocentric during a time when I should be steering my attention away from myself. Of course there are theological implications within the theme of these songs, especially "crucified". Is it OK to focus on the self and consider God's personal love towards us as individuals? Or should we rather consider God's love towards us as a community and that God favors a community of Christ like self-sacrifice over the individual and their personal needs? These are questions that I wrestle with. I've not been aware of this wrestling but it's been happening on a subconscious level.
The back and forth motion of this wrestling is not a concrete place to be but I think that's the point. It shouldn't be. I have found that the rythym of God's Spirit is one that goes through seasons. Or atleast seasons are what God uses in order to better reveal His Infinite Self to my tiny finite self. I've heard someone say the term "living in the tension of paradox". Jesus did this with perfection and beauty.
Could it be that this humility to not sing these songs at all is false? and if false humility is the problem, why? Where does it stem from? To avoid this I believe that it is important to focus on the self but only for a short "season". We should dare to imagine that we are loved, personally and passionately. After realizing this is true we should let that awareness seep into our spirits all the while reminding ourselves that we are but dust. If this is done the natural reaction would be one of praise, worship and adoration towards the Creator. The result and effect on the heart would be a healthy balance of self worth and humility.
The talk that N.T. Wright gave in the previous post resounded fully in my heart. I've been mulling over the topic of imagination on and off for the past year or two. Matthew 18 says At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Children have an uncanny ability to be themselves, to say it like it is, to trust and to imagine or pretend. These attributes are some which belong to one who is great in the kingdom of heaven.
As Bishop Wright pointed out, when someone is exposed to mystery, beauty and possibility they are more likely to believe then before they were exposed (paraphrase). I believe in who God is dogmatically. It is a little harder for me to believe in what He could possibly do. It's not that I don't believe in the work of the Holy Spirit to bring about heaven on earth, I do. By because of my sinful nature I fall into a place of not actively believing. The first step in actively believing requires imagination. Can I imagine a need being filled? Can I imagine myself or someone else being healed? Can I imagine doing something that seems unlikely for me? Can I imagine being able to do something that I have not been able to do in a while? You get the idea.
Imagination does have it's limits. We should not entertain the thought that our own strength, will and imagination can bring about what we might think is utopia. Whatever we do that is not the will of God will fade. Expressed imagination can also amplify whether someone is seeking the Lord or being selfish, or worse. Prayerful imagination brings one to a place where faith is encouraged and courage is normal. Imagination along with a contrite spirit can warm the cold adult heart and clear the way in order to better hear the voice of God.
Lord give me the grace to even be able to imagine.