Would Words Matter?

would-wordsIt always surprises me how the Lord uses even fallen choices and behaviours in life to teach us. Take for instance a song that our church worship leader introduced into the service about six months ago. The song lyrics are OK, but not particularly great, and severely lacking in theological content. My bigger concern is that the song was produced by a cult, and therefore should have no place in our congregational worship. (But that’s an issue for perhaps another blog post.)

Something about the chorus bothered me as well. It took some examination to figure out that it was the use of the word “would.” Here it is:

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me

(Small point of interest: I don’t know if it’s because of the CCLI Canada lyrics, but the ones on our church powerpoint slide say “You would lay down your life.” I wonder if others do, too.)

Now, as I said, the lyrics aren’t terrible, and there are far worse songs creeping into the church to be concerned about. But it’s that word “would” that I think represents a concerning attitude I find far too easy to fall into. And if that’s true for me, it’s probably true for others. Let me try to explain.

For a moment, let’s replace “would” with more direct, succinct wording, and look at how much more powerful it suddenly is.

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You took my place
That You bore my cross
You laid down Your life
And I have been set free
Jesus, I sing for
All that You’ve done for me

It’s a subtle change, but also a pretty powerful difference. The former sounds hypothetical in nature (which may be the point so that unbelievers can sing along too), whereas the latter has a solid truth proclamation about it. Does it really matter either way? Well, I think it does.

How Does This Convict Me?

So when that song comes up in church, that’s how I sing it now. Maybe you think it’s nit-picking or much ado about nothing. But the more I have considered it, the more I also began to examine my prayer life, and found it needed needs a bit of an overhaul.

How often do I use that same word in prayer as if God may or may not answer me? “Lord, I pray that you would open the eyes of our worship leader and give him a passion to lead with music that really glorifies You.” No. “Lord, I pray that you WILL open his eyes….” Not only should we sing boldly with clear, true statements, but we should do so in prayer as well! It’s not that there’s some special power in my words (as that cult teaches), but that my words affect and convey my thoughts and attitudes. I don’t have faith in the power of my words, but in the power of the mighty Creator of the universe who is my Heavenly Father. So my prayers are not wishful thinking, but bold requests before a powerful, loving and gracious God.

That is what has affected me most profoundly through this. There is nothing wrong with the word “would.” It’s how I have been using it at times that exposes an improper attitude towards my Lord. Jesus DID actually die for me. And I must pray that He WILL be glorified. “Would” is just too weak in these instances. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow and learn through this struggle.

ETA: Since writing this post, my church continues to sing more Bethel music and other mind-numbing repetitive, vacuous content like it. Despite my objections, nothing has changes. So I no longer sing these songs at all. If you are a believer reading this, please remember us in your prayers. Thanks.

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