When the music fades All is stripped away And I simply come Longin' just to bring Something that's of worth That will bless Your heart I'm comin' back to the heart of worship And it's all about You It's all about You, Jesus I'm sorry, Lord, for the thing I've made it When it's all about You It's all about You, Jesus
I remember when I first sang these words—a high school senior, surrounded by other members of my youth group in a darkened conference room. The frigid hotel air was a pleasant reprieve from the sweltering heat we’d endured all day on this Palm Springs summer retreat, but the relief I felt was about more than a cooling of my skin. As the worshipful lyrics washed over me, the relief sunk into the marrow of my bones, lodging itself into my soul and setting me free of a burden I hadn’t known I was carrying.
I had been following Jesus for as long as I could remember, never wavering in my faith or my affections. But even as a teenage believer, I could see now that my faith had grown cumbersome. What began as the seeds of Jesus living within my heart had sprouted limbs and born fruit—much of it healthy, but some unnecessary. If left untended, the layers and additions would grow unwieldy, toppling a faith that could quickly slip from its solid foundation.
The song’s earnest call back to the heart of worship—to the Heart of faith itself—paved the way for a necessary pruning. I was reminded that all the spiritual practices and rhythms, the community, the performative obedience . . . all of the “extras” of my Christianity . . . had more to do with ME and my selfishness and pride than with the Object of my faith. I had teetered on the brink of making God subservient to my own whims and image. Now, I was humbly splayed out at the foot of the cross, where Christ reclaimed His throne.
More than twenty years have passed, and this remains a message I need to hear again and again and again. My mind grows consumed with learning more about the Lord; my ego gets wrapped up in the appearance of my faithful obedience. Even my altruistic moments of evangelistic fervor are wrapped up in a desire to make Jesus relevant and enticing in the eyes of nonbelievers. But Jesus does not need my help in that regard: He is relevant and enticing, regardless of how I present Him. I’ve added unnecessary filters to a pristine Jesus who is entirely without blemish, masking the truth of the Lord’s beauty in my convoluted efforts to present Him in a way I have mistakenly deemed more appealing.
I am not alone in this tendency to repackage Jesus to enhance His marketability. From where I stand, I see this as one of the great shortcomings in the modern church—this desire to “help Jesus out” with His image. But I fear we are trying too hard, having wrenched the reins from a capable Holy Spirit in our naïve and prideful assumptions that we might do a better job of winning souls for Christ. He is after our hearts, not our presentation skills. It is our worship of Him that shines most brightly before a watching world, no extra spotlight needed.
With Easter Sunday just three days away, I am setting aside this desire to add to the glory and the majesty and the irresistible outpouring of love displayed by Jesus in His death and resurrection. Lord God, I am sorry for making it about too much more. It’s all about you—the heart and soul of my worship, my life, my world.