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Chicken or Egg?

by Tim O'Hearn

It is good that Christian music has been gaining in popularity over the past few years. But it is also a double-edged sword. For those in non-instrumental churches—such as the Church of Christ, the Orthodox churches, and some Baptists—this popularity has added to the difficulty of teaching our children why we believe what we believe about vocal-only music in the worship assembly. When the popular songs, especially among the youth, all have instrumental accompaniments, people don’t want to hear the very proper arguments against it. This article, however, is not about that edge of the sword.

Because of the popularity of Christian music, it is easier for errors in doctrine to creep into our minds. Sometimes the songs sound good, until put under the microscope of scripture or logic. Previous articles in Minutes With Messiah have discussed some of these songs. There is another song that is recently popular that sounds good, but demands closer scrutiny. Part of the chorus asks God to help me “want the healer more than the healing,” and “the savior more than the saving.” Wanting Jesus more than anything appears to be good. After all, preachers tell us that everything is about Jesus. Jesus himself said that following him was a top priority.

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matt 10:37)

That part of the song may bear up. The first time I heard it, however, I immediately had a negative reaction. Should we want the healer more than the healing; the savior more than the saving? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

That sounds a lot like the “Jesus yes, church no” philosophy. Everything is OK as long as you believe in Jesus; just don’t ask that we make significant changes in our life. Belief in Jesus is acceptable, but Paul altered Christian doctrine to change it where Jesus himself would not recognize it. Or the age-old Gnostic philosophy that the spirit and the body are separate, so you can believe in Jesus with your spirit and the body can go on sinning according to its nature.

What do the scriptures say? Jesus said wanting him was not enough.

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matt 7:22-23)

In Acts 19, several Jewish exorcists tried casting out devils “by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.” The devils responded by beating up those men. Some might argue that they really did not believe in Jesus, and that is a possibility. Another possibility is that they wanted Jesus (or the power he granted) more than the saving.

If you were diagnosed with cancer, would you refuse to see any doctor but your favorite general practitioner because you wanted the healer more than the healing? If you were drowning, would you ask the ethnicity or politics of the one who threw you a life preserver? Would you not want the saving more than the savior? Granted, Jesus is the only savior; but is it enough to come to him because he is Jesus without acknowledging the need of a savior? It is wanting the saving that motivates faith in Jesus. Salvation is not a mere by-product of faith.