04 November 2009

Have You Praised Yourself Lately?

If you went to church this weekend and you attend a church where contemporary music is the norm, you probably did lift up your hands in self-worship, didn't you?

Okay, just one more music-related post and I promise to get off of this soapbox. For this week anyway. I always listen to Moody Radio in the morning and, in between discussions, they occasionally play a worship song or hymn. I almost lost it yesterday when I heard the opening chords of "I am a Friend of God." I loathe this song (and quite honestly am disappointed that Moody would play it, but I digress). Why? Because it is self-glorifying, self-worshiping, and borders on self-deifying. The lyrics (so deep and so profound) are below:

VERSE:
Who am I that you are mindful of me
That you hear me, when I call
Is it true that you are thinking of me
How you love me, it's amazing (Who am I Lord)

CHORUS:
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Verse

BRIDGE:
God Almighty
Lord of Glory
You have called me friend



In one verse in the Bible, John 15:15, Jesus calls his disciples friends and it seems that the touchy-feely folk of the world have run away with this.

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 (ESV)


What we conveniently forget (and most translations fail to properly convey) is that throughout the New Testament, Christians are referred to as slaves. I know I just offended a lot of people right there. "But my translation says servant!" you're shouting at your computer right now. Yes, most translations do say servant and most translations are incorrect in doing so. In the majority of instances of the word that is feebly translated "servant" the word in the original Greek is actually doulos meaning "slave." (See John MacArthur's article "The Distinguishing Marks of a Christian" for a little more explanation.)

Now, I am certainly not averse to the idea of Christ calling me friend! What a wonderful picture! But let's look at this verse, John 15:15, in context:

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Did you catch verse 14? "You are my friends if you do what I command you." Our friendship with Jesus can only be true through our obedience to Him. And our obedience to Him circles back to our being servants, or slaves, of Christ. "Obedience is the proof that you are intimately connected to Jesus Christ. [...] In every case where the New Testament talks about a relationship to Jesus Christ, that relationship is visible or made visible by obedience. A true branch; a true son; a true brother, sister, mother; a true sheep; a true disciple; will obey Christ. That's the standard. That's not how you become saved, that's the evidence of it. And so it is that in every relationship with Jesus Christ, the mark is obedience. And it is no different for those who ever are his friends. "Ye are my friends," Verse 14, "if you do whatever I command you." Now, that's the mark of a friend of Jesus. So, we are in a beautiful intimacy with Jesus Christ, marked by our obedience. The world can tell who we are because we obey him. It's a fantastic thing to realize this friendship." (John MacArthur, The Friends of Jesus)

So, my problem with the song "I am a Friend of God" is that it's terribly lacking in solid Truth. It trades Christ-worship for self-worship and fails to mention why Jesus calls us "friend." I wonder, what if we changed the lyrics to this song ever so slightly:

CHORUS:
I am a slave of God
I am a slave of God
I am a slave of God
Saved by His blood!


Why do I get the feeling that that version won't catch on?

And if you need any further reason not to sing this song during your church worship service which should be dedicated to worshiping and praising God not you, watch the video below. It's "I am a Friend of God" being sung at Lakewood Church...home of the King of Prosperity Preachers himself, Joel Osteen.

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