Sunday, March 09, 2008
updated post: the theology of one Hillsong song
Update: Commenter Bill has posted on this post at his blog, and started another stream of conversation over there. His blog is bigger than mine (just like Hillsong is bigger than most of us), and so the commenting energy has now swung over there.
For those who think I might be a Hillsong devotee, check out my other posts on Hillsong here and a here and here. And other posts I have done on exploring Jesus images in texts, including Narnia, Edmund Hillary and the Mel Gibson movie.
I did the below at our Grow service tonight. We’ve started a series looking for the real Jesus. As part of it, I am leading into worship by taking a song and asking “what are we thinking when we sing this.” Here is the Hillsong number “for all you’ve done.”
The song has 3 parts. The opening is fascinating;
Lifted me from the miry clay
I hear echoes of the Old Testament. For example Psalm 40:1 -3; I patiently waited, LORD, for you to hear my prayer. You listened and pulled me from a lonely pit, full of mud and mire. You let me stand on a rock with my feet firm, and you gave me a new song, a song of praise to you.
Such echoes of Jesus are present in a number of places in the Old Testament. The most well known is Proverbs 8, with what I call a “Cosmic or Wisdom Jesus,” Jesus present at the birth of creation, giving wisdom to life. So “for all you’ve” done starts with a creation Jesus present redemptively within creation.
The middle of the song keeps the Old Testament theme going:
Forever, I will never be the same
At this point, I become a bit uneasy, as there is the potential of Jesus being mushed into Almighty God. But then the song gets very specific.
Cos You came here
From the everlasting
To the world we live
The Father’s only Son
This is a good Incarnational theology. This Cosmic Jesus is God before time, that came to live. The life of Christ is essential. “For all you’ve done” includes every day of every one of those 33 years.
The good theology continues as the song moves to end:
And You lived
You rose again on high
You opened the way for the world to live again
I find fascinating the echoes of ascension. Jesus fully human and fully divine “opened the way.” The human body of Jesus ascends into God. In the Ascension, the way for humans is opened to God. What is more, God is changed as God embraces humanity.
In summary, “for all you’ve done” is a surprisingly broad song theologically. Christians often limit what Jesus does to the cross. Yet this song names Jesus, for all you’ve done as including creation, incarnation, life, resurrection and ascension. So salvation in Christ is not limited to the work of the cross. It starts with God making the world, involves the sending of Jesus, God with skin on, moves through thirty three years of healing to the embrace of the cross, the surprise of Easter Sunday and the ascension, as Jesus opens the way. That’s the Jesus being worshipped in “for all you’ve done.”
Being a U2 fan, I must note the echoes of both an old hit, “40″ and a new hit, “Windows in the Sky.”