I have had the tremendous privilege of being equipped to lead worship for many years now. It has been a burning fire in me ever since I was at a Passion Conference in Memphis, TN when I was 18 years old. Music is powerful and memorable and when it is combined with the name of Jesus, it can move mountains. Still, all music is powerful and memorable. Even very poorly written or performed music can have the power to stir up emotions and memories. It is one of the joys of leading worship that you get the opportunity to play a song for a specific crowd that you know will be enthusiastically embraced based on the age and culture of the audience. (This can also be a temptation for manipulation but that is a story for another day.) One of those types of songs is the old hymn “I’ll Fly Away”. With very little effort, you can get a crowd of people enthusiastically singing this old melody. Unfortunately, it is deeply unbiblical. I discovered this as I was listening to a modern Christian song, written through the same inspiration. No disrespect to Shane and Shane, whom I love, and who write beautiful songs, but with the lines of this one song, I take exception:
This touches on one of the problems that we currently face in the American Church concerning what we believe to be the main message of Easter. If you read children’s books about Easter, nearly all of them appear to end by showing an empty grave and declaring “Jesus is alive! The tomb is empty!” But hardly anyone lets children see the resurrected body of Jesus. Why? Because we don’t think that it is important to the message of Easter. What most people imagine to be the message of Easter is the idea that there is life somewhere else in a disembodied bliss after death. But the point that the authors of the Bible want to make about Easter is that God is redeeming creation (material things) and is making all things new! (Revelation 21:5). That is why it is important that the actual body of Jesus was raised from the dead and even ate food with the disciples (John 21:1-15). Material things certainly matter to God. He is the one who created all these things in the first place and said that they were “very good” (Genesis 1:31). What about the Psalmist? Is he saying that material matter is meaningless and temporary and so we should fix our eyes on spiritual things? No. He is bemoaning the fact that life is full of vanity and he is crying out to God to do something about it. The Psalm is a prayer and it ends on these stirring words:
“Let Your work appear to Your servants And Your majesty to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands. Psalm 90:16-17 Yes, indeed, Lord! Let the work we pour our lives into have eternal value! This is what the Psalmist is praying towards. He is asking God to make the work that we do with our hands in this material world have eternal value. So, do Art and Yahoo matter? Has God done anything in response to this prayer? The short answer is: Yes! God has raised Jesus bodily from the dead! Jesus is now the promise to all of creation that there is a resurrection of the world waiting to happen, even if the world has to experience a kind of death first. But this does not mean that ALL material things matter. Art and Yahoo matter when they are used for the sake of the advancement of God’s Kingdom. There is only one Kingdom that will be left standing on that long awaited day of final resurrection. As in the image of the statue in the book of Daniel, all the kingdoms of the world will be crushed by a little stone cut without hands and the stone itself will grow and take the place of all the other kingdoms (Daniel 2). As Revelation 11:15 says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and ever.” As for the things that we do with material matter, including our bodies, the apostle Paul puts it like this: “If any man builds on the foundation (of the resurrected Jesus) with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. Art and Yahoo for their own sake will indeed fly away. But Art and Yahoo truly dedicated to the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom will endure forever in God’s glorious future for the earth. This is the good news for the planet earth! Yes, Lord! Confirm the works of our hands!