God is holy and deserves our reverence and worship and awe. We are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10) He is Love. He is Father. He is Healer, Comforter, Sustainer. He is many, many things…but He is not easily offended.
To be certain, He is disgusted by and unable to look upon our wretched sinfulness.
If we are His, He looks upon us and sees His perfect, holy, sacrificed Son. We are covered by His blood. And because this IS TRUE, we are invited to come before His throne of grace with confidence. (Heb 4:16)
So why do we feel the need to tip toe in from stage left? Why do our prayers sound so rote and pious? Are we really afraid we are going to say something that’s going to shock God? Are we concerned we might offend Him?
God is not a 19-year-old college student, away from Mommy and Daddy for the very first time, who needs a “safe space” to protect His feelings.
He wants us – the raw, authentic, messy, and sometimes dramatic version of us to bare our hearts and souls before Him, unashamed.
My current, constantly-on-repeat, song is a newer song by Hillsong UNITED entitled Even When It Hurts. (Please listen to it – it is amazing!) And the last three phrases of the second verse go like this:
Even when the fight seems lost, I’ll praise You.
Even when it hurts like hell, I’ll praise You.
Even when it makes no sense to sing, louder then I’ll sing Your praise.
“I’m sorry…but did they just use the phrase ‘hurts like hell’ in a worship song, as in TO GOD??!”
Yeah – yeah they did. And, you know what, I don’t think there was a collective gasp in the heavenlies as God and the angels overheard them recording their song to share with the world. God is not an uptight legalist (aka Pharisee) – He is a loving Father. And in His love, He has given us both freedom and discernment.
“But what about Ephesians 4:29 which ‘clearly’ indicates we are not to use curse words? Obviously they are disregarding this verse.”
Ok, since you brought it up, let’s look at that.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (ESV)
I firmly believe, in whatever you say, most importantly you must know your audience. Would what you’re saying be “corrupting” to your audience or would it simply “fit the occasion”? Because the truth is, life is hard, this world is sinful, and sometimes the pain just sincerely hurts like hell.
When you have to deal daily with an ailment that no doctors have yet been able to solve…when you have to watch your toddler choke and vomit with most meals because her little body doesn’t tolerate textures…when you have to bury a daughter you never got to meet…a pain so incredibly deep it quite bluntly hurts like hell. And that’s all just me. There are many situations in this life through which others have had to walk that would certainly fit that category.
And maybe that’s why Hillsong’s song resonates so deeply with me. I don’t think they’ve done it for shock value or to gather more critics around the campfire. Instead, I see it as a personal, honest, and raw heart cry to God out of the deepest possible pain.
Many well-meaning people will tell kids “Imagine you are meeting the President of the United States. God is even more important than the President, so act at least as proper with God as you would with the President.” Anyone else ever hear this line? No? Ok, maybe it was just me.
I don’t know about you, but I would be much more restrained with the POTUS than I am with God, because I don’t KNOW him. But God and I have been through A LOT together – I know Him and He knows me. And if I were to suddenly become filtered and all “prim and proper” in my conversations with Him, quite frankly, it would be weird.
God doesn’t care too much about propriety.
Jacob spent an entire night wrestling with God. I have to believe more words were exchanged between them than what we are given. (Genesis 32-33)
David was seemingly bipolar in his feelings towards God. Just read Psalms.
Jesus didn’t obey the religious leaders’ laws, and called them “whitewashed tombs” and “a brood of vipers.”(Matthew 23:27, Matthew 12:34)
Strong words sometimes very appropriately “fit the occasion.”
Please don’t misunderstand me. This is not some awkward ploy to convince you to suddenly begin lacing your speech with 4-letter expletives. Our words should be life-giving regardless of the words we use – but we have to realize that sometimes that looks messier than we’d like. I am incredibly blessed to have dear friends in my life with whom I can let my hair down without any fear of judgement. I hope you do, too! And if I can be that way with them, I can certainly be that way with God! Vulnerability is a beautiful thing!
Be free, dear friends. Use discernment. Be very aware of your audience that you are not causing anyone to stumble. But also be vulnerable with your people, and be honest with your God. Seriously, you’re not going to offend Him.