Last February, I came upon a couple of Christian brothers singing AMAZING GRACE. This beautiful song is the most popular hymn sung in churches today. The melody alone is immediately recognizable. At funerals it is often played, especially on the bagpipes. It was even played by Mr. Scott with bagpipes on the starship Enterprise at the funeral of Mr. Spock in Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan.
As I began to sing along, I began thinking how much I loved that song and started to recall all of the different melodies I had sung those beloved words to, tunes such as, the theme to Gilligan's Island, Ghost riders in the sky, and Peaceful Easy Feeling among others.
I asked the brother that was playing the guitar if he knew the melody to the House of the Rising Sun. He responded that he doesn't play secular music anymore. I shared that the only words I knew to that melody were the words of AMAZING GRACE. He responded that those words were anointed and the melody must also be anointed and the melody to the House of the Rising Sun was not. Whatever is secular cannot be made unsecular, or holy.
I was pretty sure he was wrong but I didn't know why. For that reason, and to prevent my pride from hijacking the conversation, I left. Pride will derail me every time and move my focus from Christ to me.
During my time with God later that day, God revealed a significant truth to me. It was that we are created in the image of God! Now, while most of us have heard that often, I felt that I was hearing it for the first time.
Let me explain. While scripture does confirm that we are created in God's image (Genesis 1:26-27), what does that really mean? Numbers 23:19 specifically states that "God is not man" and in John 4:24 we read that "God is Spirit." So what does it mean to be created in God's image or likeness?
For one thing, our resemblance to God includes such characteristics as reason, morality, language, and creativity in all forms such as building, tools, vehicles, weapons, art, and even music. In fact, this is what God says about our ability to create.
"And the LORD said, 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do now will be impossible for them.'" Genesis 11:6
One of the reasons reason that we have been given the ability to create is for the purpose of bringing glory, worship, and honor to God. And whatever might have been created by us for our own selfish purposes, can be redeemed for the purpose of the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Remember in the beginning, man rebeled against God like some of the angels had and as a result, we have been separated from our Creator, forever! There is nothing we can ever do to correct our errors and failings. No matter how "good" or "obedient" we are today, our sins, our crimes, and our victims remain. We cannot undo the damage that we have done. We will never become perfect because of our past. And until all of our wrongs and transgressions are paid in full, we still bear the unimaginable, unbearable wrath of a holy God. And like the rebellious angels, an eternity of torment, torture, and isolation from God is our only future.
However, unlike those angels, we are redeemable. We cannot redeem ourselves any more than an empty soda can is able to redeem itself. But, if someone sees value in that can, that person can do for the can what the can is helpless to do for itself. And if someone would redeem us, that would permanently change our eternity!
Many of us look at our own past and cringe at what we were capable of doing. We focus on doing things differently, attend classes and recovery meetings, and collect all of the certificates and awards we can to show that we have changed.
However, whether it is the parole board, our victims, our community, and even our families, our past is still visible, real, and on record. Though we have changed our behavior, no one will really believe that we had a change of heart (Psalm 51:10) and we still fear rejection (Psalm 51:11).
But what if we were offered a pardon? Our record would still show our past but it would also bear the stamp to indicate that our debt was paid in full. And the signature that authorized it cannot be canceled or removed. While it is still possible to reject the offer of a full pardon, why would anyone be so stupid? Why would that person remain in boundage when they could be free?
We tend to whine, gripe, and complain about our circumstances and still be opposed to freedom if we can't live our life the way we want to. We want our freedom without any restrictions or rules. And if that is our mindset, why would anyone offer to give us freedom?
The good news is that you are redeemable because your Creator values you for no other reason then that you were created to glorify God and enjoy him forever. No matter what you have done, you can have a new purpose, a new future, a new mind, and a new heart.
Just as the melody to the House of the Rising Sun can be redeemed to bring an old song to a new audience because it has been repurposed, you too can be redeemed, rescued, and repurposed.
Because your purpose is for God's glory, and the change is so radical, it can only be achieved supernaturally. It requires the same power that spoke the universe into existence and that raised Christ from the dead to take residence in the redeemed person.
That will bring about a new and different relationship with God. You can know for sure that has happened because you will have a new relationship with your former behavior and sin. You will begin to hate what God hates and love what God loves. And the more that takes place, the more you will become like Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:29). You will realize a peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4:7) and a joy undescribable and filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8-9).
If you have surrendered to Christ already, praise God. Ask him to restore in you the joy of his salvation (Psalm 51:12). If you haven't yet, then don't let this day end without surrendering to Christ (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) and tell someone about your decision. Then you too will know why we sing these words as often as we do and any way we can,
Amazing grace, How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost and now I'm found, I was blind, but now I see. I can't think of anything else that I could ever be more thankful for.
God bless each one of you brothers, David Kamashian