Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wheat and Tares

Recently, I happened to see a video of the contemporary hymn "In Christ Alone". It was sung by an Irish vocalist named Kristyn Getty. She read a passage from the first chapter of the Gospel of John and then sang the hymn, with a rather large choir behind her. As I researched this hymn further, I found that Kristyn's husband Keith, and another individual, Stuart Towend, wrote the hymn.

I've been rather taken with this hymn. It sounds like a creed put to music. Unfortunately, much of what passes today as Christian music, would, in my opinion, would have been better left uncomposed. This song is radically different.

I discovered that Keith and Kristyn Getty have made it their goal to write new hymns which are not tied into the musical tastes of one particular generation (i.e. market share to many others). They want to write hymns of "singable doctrine". As a Sunday School teacher, I could not be more pleased. I was very encouraged to hear their work and to know why they are doing what they are doing. What a wonderful thing!

Having read this, you might be wondering what the topic "Wheat and Tares" has to do with what I just wrote. Let me try to take you down the path of reflection which I took to get here. Like many others at this time, I do believe that much of what passes for Evangelical Christianity today is simply a consumer-driven effort to get people into a church. It's a game of numbers which waters down the Gospel to a product to be desired rather for its worldly benefits rather than glorifying God. That is why so many alleged churches today could accurately be described as a "circus church." From "7 day Sex Challenges" to "What James Bond can teach me about being a Christian" to an Easter sermon advertised in its community on the topic of "Beer, Babes and Baseball", much of the Evangelical church seems to be purposely weakening itself in the midst of a culture which seems more ignorant and more hostile to Biblical Christianity than ever before. (Oh, by the way, the three sermons I told you about just now weren't made up by me. They really happened over the last year).

In tracking things such as this, I am indebted to those such as Chris Rosebrough and his "Fighting for the Faith" podcast (which I highly recommend). Unfortunately, I found myself being in the position of feeding myself a lopsided view of God's church. All the things which I have mentioned are, unfortunately, true. However, I had spent a lot of time looking only at one side. When I came across the hymns of Keith and Kristyn Getty, I knew that I had missed something.

Those bad things happening in evangelical churches are very much like the tares (weeds), which the Lord Jesus spoke of in His parable on the "Tares and the Wheat" (Matthew 13:24-30). The summary of this is that the tares (technically known as darnels) and the wheat look so much alike as they are developing, you cannot easily tell them apart. However, once the harvest time comes, differences are obvious. One lesson which I drew from this is while the tares are growing to full maturity in this world, so is the wheat. If all we do is focus on the negative aspects in the church, we, unfortunately will have many things happen to support that view. But that will rob us of knowing that God's good work in His Son's church is also growing to full maturity as well. While there are "God is my girl-friend" songs being used in churches, there are people like Keith and Kristyn Getty, whose hymns are a wonderful reminder that God's good work continues and matures in His people. God be praised!

If you're interested in the great work which the Getty's are doing, please go to their website:

I particularly recommend their hymn "O Church, Arise". The biblical insights in the lyrics are remarkably profound.