Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
But the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14 NIV)
“Our God is an Awesome God, He reigns from heaven above. With wisdom, power and love, our God is an awesome God.” This chorus, from the song “Awesome God” by Rich Mullins,. is probably one of the most recognizable of contemporary choruses. For many it is the first contemporary piece they remember singing in church. It was a staple of every youth retreat. And you always had that one girl who insisted on doing the sign language to the song. It was an amazing youth group phenomena. Evryone of them had at least one young girl who would sign every chorus you would sing.
While I haven’t done extensive research on it, I’m fairly sure this song also began the slow, inexorable shift in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) from being about us and our problems to worship music. While CCM did eventually become the Christianized version of easy listening (my apologies to Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith) it wasn’t always that way. It began as a very gritty real music that morphed into something else. At some point the church began to see a need to have more God-centric focus in music and the “worship music” of today was born. I’m not saying one is better than the other. To me both are needed. But whatever one’s preference you have to admit there is a big difference between
I love them both. But wherever you sit, it was this little chorus, “Awesome God” from Rich Mullins that began to form the bridge. It’s easy to see why. It’s catchy, easliy singable. And it tells us that God is well, just Awesome. He’s good, nice, Awseome. Who wouldn’t want to sing about Him?
What I hadn’t thought about, until this last week, was how ready we are to drop the song and only sing the chorus. I read an article about the author, Rich Mullins, this past week that made the point that we treated him much like the song. We wanted to grab the nice, easy to understand pieces of him and not look at the difficult, complicated places of his life. Oh how easily we trade the parts of someone we want to idolize and not look at the humanity of our heroes.
So I went back and listened to the song. If you can stand one more song. please listen to this
You can see why we grasp the chorus rather than the song. The song is difficult. There are a lot of complicated sentences that you have to sing through fairly quickly. But I think that was Rich’s point. God Himself is complicated, not easily grasped, impossible to contain. He is a God who has “thunder in His footsteps and lightening in His Fists” (My favorite line). He is God who holds both mercy and judgment in His hands.
He is still an Awesome God, but the deftionif far from the chorus. When we only hold to the chorus we have a cool, awesome Jesus. Awesome like one of our friends. I have plenty of friends who are awesome. I love them. But they don’t compel me. if I am not with them every moment, I’m OK. I miss them, but I’m not influenced and compelled by them.
But the song reveals the Awesome God who stands over everything. A God who drops us to our knees. A God who cannot be ignored, who rules over all things. A God who insists the “fear of the Lord” we read about in the first Psalm. He is the God above all Gods, and He’s the God we need. In Short, He is awesome
The awesome God of the chorus is friendly, nice and comfortable and ultimately toothless. A God who evokes awe from us is God who defeats the fears and problems that whisper to us in the night. He is a God who tells us all things will be right in the end. You have a God who is awesome. He is greater than anything you face. Greater than your sin, your guilt, your grief. He is greater than your past, your present and your future. In short, Awesome.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><