Lot’s of things are going viral at the moment. Viral in a good way, online via social media in order to keep people’s spirits up. There’s jokes, comic clips, quotable quotes and lots of singing. The singing that stands out is when ordinary members of the public like the Father and daughter act on YouTube just sit in front of the computer, start singing and the world discovers an unknown talent.
Another example of viral music is “The Blessing” a version of a song from Bethel Church that has been put together by Tim Hughes bringing together the musicians from a number of UK churches via zoom. The words are well known and from Scripture.
“May the Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face to shine upon you.”
Many have heard, enjoyed and been encouraged by the words. Hopefully, hearing words of Scripture sung will help to encourage people who don’t know Christ to investigate further. However some question marks have been raised because the song has not merely been presented as an encouragement to believers but as a blessing spoken over the whole United Kingdom. It includes the refrain
“God is for you.”
I can understand the motivation behind it. At a time when people are frightened, when they may also have faulty image of God as capricious and cruel and when the thing that is most likely to cut through from believers is the announcement that COVID-19 is a judgement on whichever sin we are most upset about this week, then I understand why people might want to present another perspective. We rightly want to point to the compassion, mercy and grace of God.
However, it is important that we do this correctly. We find the phrase that God is for us in Psalm 118:6
“The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
What can mere people do to me?”
It is important to get the context. God being for the Psalmist is seen in his unfailing love and mercy. It is seen in God defending the Psalmist from his enemies. It is seen in the Psalmist recognising that he deserves punishment and asking God to save him.
When we say that “God is for you.” We are talking about God’s covenant people. There are some things and therefore, some people that God is against. In Nahum, God tells people who oppose him that he is against them. God is against sin and evil. That means he stands against his enemies and the enemies of his people. God is not for the child abuser, the bully, the genocidal dictator. We can see those examples as obvious.
Yet when we are bitter, when we lie, slander, betray, hurt others. When we try to live by our own rules and when we idolise things that are not God, then we are saying we are against God. The Bible is clear that outside of Christ, we were God’s enemies. We deserved the judgement of death. God had every right to be against us. So the Psalmist talks about the need to be saved, not just from enemies but from our own sin and God’s righteous judgement.
It is God’s grace and mercy that causes him to say “I am for you.” This is a word of encouragement to everyone who has found forgiveness and peace in Christ. If you are reading this and haven’t reached that place of peace with God, I would encourage you to put your trust in Christ today. For those of us who are believers, it is important that we share the good news.
Our desire is that our friends, neighbours and family hear God’s word of blessing, that he is for them. It is vital if they are to come to hear those beautiful words for themselves that they clearly hear the whole message that there is judgement for sin because God is righteous but that in Christ he offers grace and peace.
My prayer is that lots of people across the UK at this time will be able to discover God’s love, compassion, forgiveness, peace and blessing. Then many more will be able to say:
“God is for me!”