Only Under God

Last Sunday, the Smyrna First choir offered up the most wonderful song, “Only Under God.”  With it being the day after July 4th, it couldn’t be a more appropriate song.  The words are affirming of our perspective on real freedom and confessionary to whom we are in submission to.  Here are the words…

We can make our declaration, write our laws and chose our way,

but the power to build nations rest in a higher place.

In humble hearts that bow to seek the face of God.

Chorus:

Only under God can we know freedom through the power of His name.

Unless the Father builds this house our labor is in vain.

For whom the Son sets free is free in deed

and there is liberty only under God.

We can march in demonstration, raise our voice and bare our soul

while the children of our nation stumble down this broken road.

For it’s time to lift our eyes.  It’s time to realize.

Chorus:

Only under God can we know freedom through the power of His name.

Unless the Father builds this house our labor is in vain.

For whom the Son sets free is free in deed

and there is liberty only under God.

He cannot fail!  He will prevail!

Ours to believe and to declare!

Chorus:

Only under God can we know freedom through the power of His name.

Unless the Father builds this house our labor is in vain.

For whom the Son sets free is free in deed

and there is liberty only under God.

Yes, there is liberty only under God, only under God!

The one line that struck me was “Unless the Father builds this house our labor is in vain.”  We try to do so many things in this world — good things — and we do them in the name of God.  But though we may claim them in God’s name with our voice, we  do them for ourselves through our actions and even in our hearts.  We raise our causes, no matter what they may be, above our callings, and we turn them into idols.  We worship the status of one thing or the quality of the other, when all God is looking for is submission from all sides and all people.

We’ve lost a dear and important word in the Christian faith these days.  It’s the word “surrender.”  Some of us remember the powerful word, almost to a fault.  It may have been thrown around or dropped heavily on us during revivals or evangelistic times of worship to the point that it lost its meaning or effect.  But we’re living in a post-Christian America now.  The word surrender can be reclaimed and reformed in the heart of the believer and the not-yet-believer among us.  We can learn the meaning of laying our whole selves down at the feet of Jesus and say, “I surrender all,” to quote the old hymn.

header-the-jesus-prayer

One of the most meaningful prayers in my life is the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”).  It’s an ancient prayer, coming out of the story in scripture of two men who went to the temple to pray.  One man believed himself to be righteous and was thankful that he wasn’t like the sinners and the tax collectors in society.  The other man, a sinner and tax collector, couldn’t even approach the altar in his conviction and guilt and beat his chest saying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18.13).  The sinner was the one who knew what he truly was and was willing to lay it all down before God.

Remember, that if there is any “success” in this world, it is born “In humble hearts that bow to seek the face of God,” to quote verse 1 of the song from Sunday.  We must let go of our causes.  We must respond to the call of God in holy scripture.  That call is the Spirit’s call, calling us to be sons and daughter—not republicans or democrats, not conservatives or liberals, not in being American or non-American, not in being married or single, not in being a citizen or illegal, and especially not in being straight or gay.  Our identities are grounded in that we are sinners saved by grace.  So find your identity in grace—God’s undeserved favor and love—and lay your idols down at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.

May you find the strength to put God first and worship Him alone.  May you find peace in your heart as you allow God to remove the trash that has been collected in your political and social hoarding.  May you be truly transformed and good for all manner of ministry so that the soul of the world may find salvation.

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