The New Song
Do you ever get a song stuck in your head that you just can’t shake? They call them earworms. There you are minding your own business, cooking a burrito then suddenly “Friday, Friday, getting down on Friday…”
The most frustrating thing for me is that I can often only remember part of a lyric that then just plays on repeat in my head. “Hey brother…” Sometimes I try to extend the track by mumbling lyrics that might be accurate. “Hey brother, there’s an endless code to read this summer…” But they clearly aren’t.
My latest earworm, the song that is literally pumping through my head right now? “Cos’ the players gonna play play play. And the haters gonna hate hate hate. Baby I’m just gonna shake shake shake. Shake it off. Shake it off!”
I would argue that there are two things that can make a song compelling.
- The lyrics – that is, what was said, or
- The music – how it was said.
Despite the catchy beats, we hear something compelling, sometimes even true, and it sticks with us. Maybe an artist talks about brokenness and we say to ourselves, “Yeah I feel that.” Or maybe an artist talks about hope and we say to ourselves, “Yeah I want to be part of that. Actually, I need that.” They prompt a desire in us, but they don’t always produce an answer. Maybe you feel like this – you hear Pharrell say “happiness is the truth” and you are like, “Really? Happiness is good and all, but is that it? What about when life is tough – that’s true too!” There must be something more.
As followers of Jesus, we gather as a community each week because we have heard something compelling – that we were designed with a purpose by a God who loves us and is with us, both in times of happiness and in times that are tough. We have heard the compelling message that God hasn’t given up on the world, but wants to put this broken world back together, our broken lives back together, and that he has done this through Jesus – God in human form, whose greatest desire is to be in relationship with us.
About a century after Jesus, there was a theologian named Clement of Alexandria who described Jesus as “the new song”. He wrote:
“Behold the might of the new song! It has made men of stones, men out of beasts. Those that were as dead, not [embracing] the true life, have come to life again, simply by becoming listeners to this song.”
Essentially he was saying, “Jesus changes everything!” What he said, his lyrics, made sense of the world, our lives, they were words of hope and purpose and life. How he said it, the music, was just as compelling, performing miracles, hanging out with the lost, last and least, dying on the cross for each of us, taking the punishment that we deserved, only to rise from the dead three days later – proving to the world that through God, life would overcome death.
Now that is a compelling song.