Saturday, February 1, 2014

I wanna talk about...

Music has the power to connect to the heart like nothing else on earth. Simple words set against the backdrop of a melody pierce the heart and penetrate the soul.
The hymn writers were masters at making this kind of music. Just meditate on the words of Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art. The message found in the words of salvation and God's greatness bolster us with hope and thanksgiving. Music can have a profound effect on its listeners. It unifies those singing together, brings tears to the eyes and reveals truth to the lost.
There are often lyrics in songs that speak to feelings the listeners have held deep inside but have never been able to vocalize. Music gives voice to those emotions. Just this morning a song popped into my mind and it immediately connected with stirrings in my heart. The lyrics hit the nail on the head of the inner conversation that was taking place within me.
The song of my morning didn't have anything to do with God. I wish I could say it was a great old classic hymn of the faith that was written in the 18th century by an imprisoned Christian who was suffering for the furthering of the gospel. But the song I'm about to share does not have such a rich history.
I Wanna Talk About Me! certainly doesn't classify as a great Christian worship chorus. Quite the opposite. It could qualify for the greatest self-involved human chorus! Yet, this is the song that was playing on repeat in my mind this morning.
The lyrics in Toby Keith's popular country song are the classic mantra of the self-centered human nature. "I wanna talk about me, I wanna talk about I, I wanna talk about number one." That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?
My number one priority is, far too often, me! I think about myself, my agenda, my problems, my dreams…my, my my. After I have sufficiently thought about myself (if that task is really every completed) then maybe I can think about someone else. But first lets talk about me!
If I were listening to nothing but country music and Toby Keith then I might be content to simply let my selfish thought life remain as is, with no need to make adjustments or changes. Then I open my Bible and my selfishness is crushed. The Bible isn't pleased with my selfish attitude. The Bible calls me to throw off my egotistical tendencies. I am hit between the eyes with a fundamental truth: your life isn't about you.
Continuing my reading of Paul's letters I have come face to face with the command to throw off self ambition and to make my primary concern about others, not myself. Paul's prayer life was a stunning picture of selflessness. Paul, writing from prison, prayed for other people.
Reading Colossians 1 I was first struck by the fact that Paul prayed. That was amazing in and of itself given that he was in prison. The more I considered that simple fact the more incredible his prayer became to me. Paul not only prayed but he prayed for other people. His concern wasn't himself, it was for his brothers and sisters in Christ. He poured out his heart to God on the behalf of others, not himself.
Far too often my prayer life looks like Toby Keith's song lyrics. "I wanna pray about me!" God, help ME, intervene for ME, show ME the way. The prayers that proceed from my lips and heart are on my own behalf.
Paul's letters shine a spotlight on the error of my ways. This life isn't about me. It is about Christ and the furthering of His gospel. Jesus showed through His life that this world isn't about our own self interests. It is about what God is accomplishing by bringing lost sinners to Himself. Even on the cross, Jesus displayed selflessness as He cried out to God for the forgiveness of those who were killing Him. His prayer was, even in death, for the lost.
Can I honestly claim that as my prayer? Is my heart poured out for the lost, broken and suffering? Or is it always about me?
Jesus lived and died entirely for others. His life was nothing but selfless devotion. Paul, in seeking to follow in Christ's footsteps, encouraged the early church to do the same. He wrote in Philippians 2:3-4, "In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." 
Christ was our perfect, selfless lamb. His heart called out to His Father on our behalf. Now, He is commanding us to do the same. Cast off the self-absorbed sinful nature and put on the benevolent spirit of Christ. His humble, selfless Spirit changes everything. Our prayer life changes, our thought life changes, our ambitions change. 
I long to be bathed in the spirit of Jesus Christ, humbling myself before Him. I want to pour out to God on the behalf of the lost and hurting. I want my ambitions to be for the furthering of the Gospel and the glorifying of God. I want selfishness to be crushed in me so that Christ can reign.
This life is meaningless if it is all about me. So I'm changing the song because "I wanna talk about Christ".

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