By John J. Blanchard
January 25, 2014
Good morning to all of you. Quite often I like to listen to Christian radio. I do that because it is a pleasant respite from the head jarring noise that is on your standard radio stations. Some stations broadcast absolutely horrible sounds. I don’t even dignify it with the word “music” because to my ears it is just noise and horrible sound. If you try to pay attention at all, not only is the beat discordant but if you can catch any of the lyrics they are often profane or violent. The overall tenor of the music is very depressing. Christian radio is generally uplifting. It is worth listening to as opposed to the standard radio stations. I am not saying all music is evil. I am just saying so often it is just too horrible to listen to.
By and large Christian radio is soothing, but more and more often lately I have noticed that they are trying to sound more contemporary. Their lyrics are still okay, but the beat and the rhythm is getting a little more raucous on some of the pieces. The sound is a little more discordant, and the music itself is a little more hyper. That’s one of the things I think characterizes modern music on the radio. It is hyper. It is nerve jangling. But still by and large, Christian radio is a major improvement over your standard radio stations.
There is a general theme to Christian music. I think you will identify with this if you listen at all, and that’s love and forgiveness. We all need love and forgiveness, so there is nothing wrong with a song dedicated to love and forgiveness. I want to go through a few subject lines of some popular songs from the past and from the present, and I think you will identify with these. You will remember them if you do listen to Christian radio at all.
Years ago when I was young there was a very popular song, and it still is played often, and that is “Amazing Grace” (who saved a wretch like me). There was “Just As You Are” (coming to Christ just as you are). There was that old favorite “The Old Rugged Cross.” And more contemporary music of the last few years and currently is “On Eagles’ Wings,” “Lean On Me,” “Healing Rain,” and “Your Hands.” But the concept is most often love and forgiveness. It is somewhat syrupy at times. They are still nice pleasant songs.
They are soothing lyrics, so don’t get me wrong when I say something like, I feel sometimes Christian music is somewhat selfish. I know it bothers me to say that, but I will clarify that. I don’t want any misunderstanding of what I am saying, because it is wonderful music. I like to listen to it. But the general theme always seems to be what can God do for me? How can He take care of me in my own wretched condition and the way I am? That strikes me as selfish because love is a two-way street. I am talking now in general terms because there are a number of songs that are not focused on just ourselves. It still seems to be a general theme in Christian music.
LOVE IS ACTIVE, NOT JUST A FEELING
What I am suggesting today is that we try to find a little bit more balance in the music that we listen to. We tend to play it in our own minds. I am sure you are like I am when I hear a song and it’s catchy. I might replay it in my mind or whistle to it or whatever for a day or two after, so it does have an effect on us. I think we need to get a little bit more balance because love is a two-way street. Love is active, and love is alive. It is something we do and not just something we feel. I think we need to use music to send love God’s way, and that will give us more of a balanced perspective on our relationship to God.
I would like to look at a few Scriptures to show us by Christ’s own instructions how to love Him. If you would, please turn to our first Scripture in John chapter 14, verse 15 where Christ is speaking here: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”
Obviously the Holy Spirit is something that Jesus possesses, and it will come to us. But it is the Father who sends the Holy Spirit. He says, if you love Me (if you love Jesus Christ), keep My commandments.
It goes on to say this in verse 19 of John 14: “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
SHOW LOVE BY KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS
We see Christ saying, if you love Me, you will keep My commandments, and then My Father will love you also.
Verse 22: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.’”
This is very clear. If we love Jesus Christ and God the Father, we are going to keep His commandments. This is spoken of throughout the gospels. I want to turn to Mark chapter 12 now.
Mark chapter 12, verse 28: “Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘Which is the first commandment of all?’”
This is interjecting into a conversation that was taking place here. The scribe said which is the first commandment, the greatest commandment of all?
Continuing in verse 29 of Mark 12: “Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” This is the first commandment.’”
He goes on to say the second is like it: to love your fellow man. But the greatest commandment is to love God. So often our songs are about God loving us, which is nice. God does love us. God the Father gave His only begotten Son for us. But Christ said, if you want to receive My Father’s love, you need to love Me, and you love Me by keeping My commandments.
John chapter 15 interjects more about the Father. Let’s go back to John chapter 15 again. John chapter 15, beginning in verse 9: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
He says, I have learned to be joyful by keeping My Father’s commandments and by doing what He tells Me to do. He said, now I want you to do what I tell you to do by keeping My commandments. When you do that, the circle closes because the Father loves you because you love His Son. It is a beautiful concept, and it is a flowing around of love, but it starts with us learning how to properly love Jesus Christ and God the Father. We love Them through keeping the Ten Commandments.
In verse 12 we will continue in the same chapter: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”
He said, if you keep My commandments, you are My friend. Ditto! If you keep Christ’s commandments, you are the Father’s friend automatically.
Continue in verse 15 of John 15: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”
We know that loving one another involves the last six commandments, and loving God requires us to perform the first four commandments for a total of ten. We demonstrate this love in action by keeping—to the best of our ability—all Ten Commandments. We certainly should never teach anyone otherwise. Christ says that very clearly in Matthew chapter 5.
Turn back to Matthew chapter 5. We will start in verse 17. After going through The Beatitudes, Christ says this in Matthew 5, verse 17: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
It is very clear. We need to keep all Ten Commandments to the very best of our ability and to work at it. In order to properly love God the Father and Jesus Christ, that’s what we have to do, and the Scriptures clearly say so. That includes the Sabbaths: the weekly Sabbath and the annual Sabbaths which are called the holy days or festivals. It also means that we will not worship or make icons or images. We will not take God’s name in vain, which is much more than just what we would commonly think of as swearing. Taking God’s name in vain means useless repetition or useless use of God’s name and feeling that He is not going to accomplish what He said. It is a much broader concept than what we often think of. Of course it means when dealing with our fellow man, we are not going to lie or steal or commit adultery. We are not even going to covet what our neighbor has.
If we do all ten of them, we are loving God the Father and Jesus Christ. We are closing the circle of love between the third party which is us. This is a very beautiful concept. It is something that we have to think on, pray about, and actually act on. When we do those things, we are closing that love circle, as you could call it. It goes round and round. We will feel better as people. We will feel like we are doing what we can.
MUSIC SHOULD SHOW HOW TO LOVE GOD
What is more important, we are going to have a proper perspective on our relationship between us and God the Father and Jesus Christ. I think a part of that would be seeking music such as what we play in the Church. There is one song “How Love I Thy Law” about loving God’s Ten Commandments. Those types of songs actually embody in music how to love God. We need more music like that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to turn on the radio and have more music about how to love God. That means more music espousing and extolling the keeping of the Ten Commandments and how it completes the circle of love. It would help us bear fruit as Jesus Christ said instead of always focusing on what God can do for us. Turn that around for a while.
Love God, and show Him how we will apply these things in our lives to keep the Ten Commandments to demonstrate that love to God. Sing about that. I think that would be so uplifting. I know a few of you out there are musically talented. Why don’t you consider writing some lyrics like that and maybe putting them to some music. I think that would be wonderful for us to do. That will put more balance into our lives. I think it will help us to reflect on the relationship we have with God the Father and Jesus Christ as we sing, as we whistle, and as we hum these tunes that we would grow to love.
I conclude this Bible study with a question for you. Have you told and shown Jesus Christ and God the Father lately that you love Them?