I first heard this song around 2014 when a dear brother in the Lord introduced me to Ross King’s music. It usually works out this way where I finally discover an artist whose already been on the scene several years by that point. I chose this song for Reflections & Questions for a couple reasons.
The lyrics are poignant
There is a beautiful, simple but thoughtful and significantly biblical depth to them; there is a gut wrenching honesty in them; there is reality of what it takes to be a Christian on full display. The song (it seems to me) is about the Christian who has finally come to the end of themselves, and in sober reflection realizes that true, genuine and a faithful walk with Jesus comes at a cost – the total and complete death of the self. The only way to get to that death is to strip away all the superficial trappings of outward success and selfish, individualized and worldly propriety. To say another way – if you really want to know Jesus as he is meant to be known, you absolutely must kill the idols of your heart that hinder and block the worship of the true God of the universe.
worship is more than a song
I wonder if you have realized that worship is more than a song. The reason why this is important is because it is very possible (and easy) for any of us to set up and organize the walk of our Christians lives in such a way that gives others the impression that we have it all together (or have it together even a little bit). If I don’t see my need of mercy such that I must be a beggar for the rest of my life before God, pleading with him to show me my sin; asking him to put every ounce of pride out in the open – unless this is the tenor of my Christian life, then I can rest assured I will tempted every single day to believe the idols I’ve set up in my heart.
C.S. Lewis is known for saying, “our hearts are idol factories.” Our hearts are profoundly corrupt and so easily given over to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. The standard of righteousness is such that we don’t have permission to think of ourselves even the tiniest smidgen more than we ought. Let’s imagine we can measure this “more highly” threshold. If you had to put it under microscope in order to see the depth of how highly you think of yourself, you can better believe that you have thought too highly. When I hear a song of like this, I think of passages like Philippians 3:10. The most basic question we must deal with is this: Am I ready and willing to do whatever it takes to know Christ…are you ready to participate in his suffering?
“I want to know Christ – Yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his suffering, becoming like him his death…”Philippians 3:10 (NIV)
What was the suffering of Christ? The suffering of Christ was culminated in his sacrificial death so as to eradicate the power of sin, to give us hope beyond our physical death and ultimately give us liberation from our bondage to decay. Because of his suffering, we can finally come clean about the idols we are prone to set up in our hearts. Because of his death we are reconciled to God. What is participation in Christ’s suffering? Participation in Christ’s suffering is being honest about the idols of our hearts, and doing whatever it takes to kill them.
As killing sin cost Christ his life in pain, so killing the sin in your heart will cost you your life in pain.Tweet
What are the idols of your heart?
Anything I put before my God is an idolLyrics from Clear the Stage by Ross King
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
And anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
And anything that I give all my love is an idol
You might wonder, how does this relate to counseling? It relates to counseling because as needy people, people prone to sin and in need of counsel, this song helpfully reminds us to ask the right questions. We all have problems: relationship problems, work problems, money problems. We struggle with depression, anxiety, anger, resentment, loneliness, hatred, lust, fear and the like. In the midst of our problems and because our hearts are corrupt, we are inclined to find ways of getting help in response to these problems in ways that, when out in the open, often prove themselves to be idolatrous.
To say another way – part of the journey and process of counseling is really a journey of learning how to do regular heart surgery on ourselves. We desire to know ourselves (grow in self-awareness) develop a skill-set of see ourselves more rightly, seeing God more rightly; learning how to extend grace, mercy and forgiveness to others more rightly.
Clear the Stage of Your heart
The 10,000 foot goal of counseling is always ultimately to help one see God a bit more clearly, to grow in trust of God one step more, to believe the gospel another ounce more than before, to love our spouse, child or neighbor even a smidgen more deeply. If these (and things like this) aren’t our goals, then as in setting up a stage for a beautiful musical performance, so will our lives ultimately be: the right lighting, the right decorations, the right themes…all superficial trappings of the surface but missing the substance entirely. If our goals don’t penetrate any deeper than to organize a better surface to our lives, we will never ask a counselor or God to help us clear the stage of our hearts.
Reflect back on this past week and ask yourself, what…
- Have you put before God?
- Work and Money?
- Do you want with all your heart?
- To be recognized?
- To be a good parent?
- To be rich?
- Can’t you stop thinking about?
- What others think?
- Your feelings?
- Your next drink?
- Have you given your love?
- Porn or other lusts
- T.V., food, sleep
Advice: If you take these questions seriously, then I recommend you meet with a good friend who you know loves you and loves God and both of you go over them, so you can pray together.