This is not a rant against the Christian music industry. I’m a big fan of plenty of the artists who thrive in that very industry: Gungor, John Mark, Josh Garrels, etc. Many artists in the CCM scene are biblically minded and extremely talented.
This is a bit of a rant against some of the bad theology in the Christian music industry. But I place the most of the blame of this rant on the pulpits of evangelical America. Metrosexual dudes with a guitar, gelled up hair, and tight(ish) pants don’t set the theological bar in cultural Christianity. Pastors and church leaders do. The Bieber wannabes on Christian radio often just regurgitate what they hear from their spiritual leaders on a consistent basis.
The lyric I’m about to share is a microcosm of many such messages you may hear on the Contemporary Christian Music scene. There’s more to this song than I’m about to share, but for brevity I’m only highlighting where it gets dumpster fire bad:
Yeah, I wanna believe, Jesus, help me believe / That I am someone worth dying for …
In those two short stanzas, the grace of God and the precious blood of Jesus has been utterly denied, rejected and made of no consequence. It may seem like a shocking conclusion but hear me out.
To be someone “of worth” means by definition to be “someone who deserves to be valued.”
Who is man? and What does he deserve from God? The abject inherent evil of man is a consistent thread in the Bible from the Old Testament:
There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:3)
To the New:
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. (Romans 7:18)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
What do such abhorrent sinful people deserve from a Holy God? Dr. Phil lessons on self esteem? A Stuart Smalley pep talk every morning in the mirror? No. Man deserves wrath:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18)
“God is angry with the. wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11)
No one jot. Not One tittle. Not One iota of Scripture will lead anyone to believe in the pop psycho babble craze of “self worth/esteem/actualization.” On the contrary, Scripture makes it patently clear, that no man has any inherent worth that could recommend himself to God. If anything, a basic tenet of the sinfulness of man is that he is manifestly unworthy in regards to deserving love or grace. At its fundamental level, grace is undeserved favor, or to put it another way: favor given to people of unworth.
I’m saying this in love: This is entry level Christianity, folks.
And this type of false doctrine is being pumped into our souls and sang by our children because of a nice clean Christian veneer. Telling someone to love them-self more will create a self lover, but not a self denying disciple (Luke 9:23).
CCM gospel aside, what the Bible teaches is the incomprehensible good news! Man is sinful and has scorned God and His commands. Even when this sinful subject tries hard to be very religious all God sees are “filthy rags” (Is 64:6) But God finds a way to shower eternal wells of free grace to unworthy ones through the perfect person and work of Jesus in the gospel.
“But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, unless any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9
Jesus will not help us believe we are worth dying for, any more than he would glibly trample over His own precious blood. Much more, He wants to convince us of our unworthiness so we can see with more clarity the supreme worth of His work on our behalf.
The Christian walk is not about our self esteem. If we were to do anything with “self” the Bible sternly recommends this: Kill it. Murder it. Crucify the you that screams for any worth apart from the free grace of God in Jesus Christ (Gal 2:20).
How liberating it is to be set free from the cruel bondage of being and feeling “worthy.”
You aren’t. And you will never be.
This is what we were created for: Not to discover our worth, but to discover His. And the resulting overflow of praise will resound forever from the lips of the unworthy ones:
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” Revelation 5:12