Sunday, May 01, 2011

Day 2 -- Your least favorite song

So many to choose from.

I will probably make enemies with my selection.

Here are my reasons:
  • I don't know many American Christians -- the people who typically sing this song -- who only have a "cottage below" or just "a little silver and a little gold." Even if we feel like we're struggling to pay our bills, we usually have more stuff than we know what to do with.
  • I long for a righted world as much as anyone else does, but not for a mansion. I want to be in Jesus' presence. I want to see his face. I want to be able to touch and know this being I have come to love so much. I want the barriers of this world removed, not just a glitzier, shinier version of the here and now.
  • "Don't think me poor or deserted or lonely." Really? If you don't feel that way, then stop complaining so people won't think you are. Instead of whining about what may or may not be wrong in your life, tell people what's good. God blesses each of us every day in ways we seem to not even notice. Slow down, intentionally look at your life and notice just how much you really do have.
I fully realize that there are struggles in the here and now. I realize that scripture even uses physical metaphors of gold and jewels to describe our eternal home and that Jesus promised that he was going to prepare a place for us. I just wonder if those glitzy descriptions don't speak to one of the lower parts of our human natures -- our desire for wealth -- rather than our better parts. Are we so riches-focused that God realized that would be an effective way to describe Heaven? If so, that is a sad commentary on what we value.

Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others. ... St. Augustine

So I will gladly relinquish my mansion on the hilltop to the single mom who raised 5 children in a 2 bedroom apartment or the homeless family who couldn't even get food stamps because they lived in their car and didn't have a physical address. I just want to be in God's presence and hear his voice. If that happens, I'll sleep in a sleeping bag under the stars. No problem.


Sheila said...

Most interesting. I might choose it as least favorite because the music is, well, not my style. I'll leave it at that.

I always assumed it was written during the Great Depression or something when people really were struggling more materially than most of us do. Not that they really thought of heaven in terms of a mansion, but that the material metaphors would mean more.

Sheila said...

Wow, this has really made me think. To be clear, I've never liked this song, so you're not makeing an enemy of me by not liking it. :-)

But about the descriptions in scripture using gold, jewels, etc. I never thought of those having to do with wealth, but with beauty. That heaven is so beautiful, that is how John described it. So it isn't so much about appealing to our lower natures, but trying to describe God's indescribable beauty.

(Of course in our glutted, materialistic culture, we don't really appreciate how beautiful jewels and precious stones are, because they have been turned into status symbols and are easy to find if not to own. And there are all the fakes, too. Just as there are fakes in the spiritual world.)

lisa b said...

I'm sure you're right on both accounts: it was probably written during the depression and the language in Revelation is most likely about beauty and not wealth.

The music of this song does it no favors on my likability scale, but it is still the content that bothers me most. We're so blessed each and every day and yet the things of this world can also be such a burden. I look forward to a time when things are not important. Not an issue. It isn't the stuff that pulls me toward heaven.

I enjoy them in the here and now and that's enough for me.

I love you, Sheila! (Just don't want to miss an opportunity to say it!)