So many of the songs about God’s love currently being written and sung are cheap. They are mushy without being hardy. Like milk-bloated cereal, they drip with emotion but fall flat on substance. Such cheap love songs act like God is our cosmic girlfriend. God is not a girlfriend; God is God.
Cheap love songs typically talk about how great God’s love is for us, full stop. They fail to consider how God’s great love becomes great for us. Biblically, we know no great Godly love apart from an angry God. If God was not angry, he would be bad lover. If he didn’t grow wrathful over idolatry, murder, lying, jealousy, gossip, and sleeping around, then his love would be cheap. He’d be like the pathetic girlfriend whose identity is so bound up with male affection, that she just takes a beating. But God stands up for himself, for his infinite glory and beauty, and says, “I will not be abused. Those who treat me poorly must suffer the consequences of failing to honor the God who is infinitely honorable.” And so he pours out his righteous wrath and anger by putting to death his enemies or by putting to death his own Son. Because God is angry and just; his love is deeper than we will ever fully comprehend.
In order to understand God’s love, we must understand his anger. God’s anger inevitably leads us to the cross where justice and mercy meet in perfect, soul-wrenching, Christ-crushing, sin-forgiving, life-giving, love-flowing harmony. For those that hope in Jesus, the anger of God against our unrighteousness is mercifully diverted from us onto His beloved Son. As a result, God preserves and promotes his justice and humanity’s joy where anger and love converge, at the cross. The purpose of God’s anger is to display the depth and character of his eternal justice and his love for us. When we understand that God’s love is God’s because of his justice and anger, only then can we begin to comprehend how great a love he has for us.
So how do we write worship songs that speak of God’s great love, not cheap love? Two suggestions:
- Contrast God’s great love with his great wrath. The more we see God’s just wrath, the more we see how great his love is to save us, “a wretch like me.”
- Show how God’s love is ours in the death of his Son. Text after biblical text ties God’s unfailing love to the sacrifice of his Son.
- Articulate the greatness of God’s love alongside the magnitude of his glory. Reveal that God’s love is just one aspect of God’s many splendored glory.
Jonathan Dodson (c)