In the last post, I mentioned my family’s journey and encounters with powerful worship gatherings we’ve enjoyed of late. As is custom for musicians, songs gnaw and nag at me with a persistence to be felt from the heart before (and/or while) it is belted from the mouth. One song sticks out to me, above the many we’ve been introduced to; it’s called, “All the People Said Amen” by Matt Maher. The main reason this particular tune rises to the top is because I am compelled to sing it wrong. I want to lay why I sing it wrong, why I deem it necessary to continue, why you might consider it, and the need for a deepening of biblical roots in our corporate worship gatherings.
First of all let me say I love this song! It’s fun, lyrically edifying, upbeat, rhythmically exciting, folksy, catchy and the list goes on. This is in no way meant to be a criticism against this song. In fact, I would like only to encourage the church at large by this semi-comical story.
So why do I sing it wrong? First of all, this whole idea was a mistake. “All the peoples” just came out of my mouth the very first time I joined in on the chorus. This is a term that appears all throughout the bible. I encourage you to research this term. This is an important phrase that we have been studying a lot lately. In fact, my wife and I had just started a class called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement which I highly recommend for every christian who has the chance to participate.
What started as a sort of slip of the tongue was immediately confirmed in my spirit. As this song got stuck in my head, I began to iron out reasons as to why I should continue to sing this rendition. Firstly it re-frames every single lyric around the narrative of all of scripture, from Genesis 11 when the rebellion of humanity against God was stricken down via language separation into a table of 70 tongues all the way to Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit empowered the early church to truly unite and draw all these peoples to God to bring him glory through the power of tongues, even to the end of time, in Revelation where God receives glory and worship from all the peoples (which appears in the NT as all nations or every ethne) and all of creation. This is the heart of God. To quote one of the article titles from Perspectives, “The living God is a missionary God”. Our God is also a singing God and he joyously sings a song of salvation over us. See Zephaniah 3.
I don’t mean to suggest worship teams and leaders re-write this song or any unless they feel led. I do think worship pastors, who desire to equip a team and congregation to do the work of ministry, would benefit greatly from taking moments in our precious (no sarcasm) time together to teach a bit.
We don’t have to develop a perfectly structured 3 sentence summary of the whole story of God that fits well over a 32 bar intro. We don’t have pray a lesson with our eyes closed to God. Teach with your eyes open. We don’t have to consider ourselves in the equation at all. We are so self-centered that we’ve talked people into asking Jesus into our hearts when really when we confess Christ with our mouths and believe in our hearts and are saved that we are actually asking to be put into the heart of God, for Him to give us His.
Prayer is obviously the best approach here. Let us start asking God to empower us with His Holy Spirit to SERVE His body. He will show us how we can better worship and teach to worship Him as He shows us more of Him.
We have to delight in Him, truly delight. This is when worship becomes everything we do as laid out over and over in Paul’s epistles. As songs fade to the back and eternity to the front, men’s hearts are laid open (for eternity is written on the hearts of men). Thank you God for showing us you, for giving us you and for sending us in the same way with the SAME power. Help us to start getting it so that we can start singing it (proclaiming it among every tribe and tongue). In Jesus’ name, amen.