Here we are. Obviously we have two artists who have been working on a song for over a year in production and release a single with the exact same title – “Take Me To Church.” And it’s really weird and coincidental.
One is by Hozier and one is by Sinead O’Connor. They are two different songs. Both have two different meanings and I would like to talk about both of them and compare what they are saying.
The whole point of my Weekly Blog Free For All is that I get a chance to talk about things that are unrelated to my ministry. It’s a chance for me to break free and speak freely of religion, fallen pastors, and ministry. However, there have been commenters this week who have felt that my blogs on my Wagon Wheel post who thought I was being overly religious in my thoughts that a wagon wheel should not rock and should roll forward. Whatever.
My WBFFA is a chance for me to separate my religious feelings from my other thoughts. It’s kinda nice, really.
When I saw Hozier’s song, “Take Me To Church,” I was enthralled by the lyrics from a secular standpoint. But the video took a whole other viewpoint, I must say. I don’t know if that was the band’s direction, but here it is:
The lyrics seem to say that one is worshiping his lover:
“I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life”
Now, I can see that. I’ve been at that point in my life. Where I am at the mercy of my lover. Where I love my lover makes more sense than anyone else. Where the church has nothing to offer me and that it has abandoned me, left me for nothing, and that my lover gives me complete resolve. I also know, from another angle, that there is much good in loving your partner in such a way, but not at the expense of forfeiting your love for Christ. That leads to much danger.
She seems to be singing from a different angle. She is a Catholic who has been through a lot. And she has a heart that is crying out for something more:
What have I been writing love songs for?
I don’t wanna write them anymore
I don’t wanna sing from where I sang before
I don’t wanna sing that way no more
What have I been singing love songs for?
I don’t wanna sing them anymore
I don’t wanna be that girl no more
I don’t wanna cry no more
I don’t wanna die no more
So, cut me down from this here tree
Cut the ropes from off of me
Sit me on the floor
“I AM”; the only one I should adore
Did you see that? She wants something. Do you hear that modern church? Do you hear that contemporary church? She wants to belong somewhere. It’s the voice of someone who wants to belong to people who are hurting. Do we have that in our churches? Do we have something for her? Would we allow Sinead O’Connor in our churches?
She wants the “I AM.” Do we want that? She is a woman who is desiring and struggling for that. But I often doubt that many of our churches are struggling for that.
Then she says:
Oh, take me to church
I’ve done so many bad things it hurts
Yeah, get me to church
But not the ones that hurt
‘Cause that ain’t the truth
And that’s not what it’s for
Do you know what she sounds like? She sounds like the kind of person Christ would take in willingly in a second. But many of our churches would reject her for her looks, her sound, her past, or her strengths. I can’t think of a Southern Baptist church who would welcome her in. What is wrong with us? She is seeking the living Christ. She is seeking the truth of God and is doing it through her artistic nature.
And you know what? So is Hozier to some degree. They are finding religion in their communication in other people.
Honestly, there are people in this world looking for a connection to God. They want a relationship to some sort of community of faith. They aren’t finding it in organized religion. They are finding it elsewhere. Maybe it’s possible we have outdated ourselves. Our organs, our set in stone outreach programs aren’t doing it. We think that people are going to come to us.
Jesus had it right. He went to the people. He went to the people around them and connected with them. He touched them and found them where they were hurting. He went to a woman at the well in the middle of the day – when no one else would talk to her – and he connected to her. He didn’t expect her to show up at his church. He found her.
“Take me to church.” There is a strong sentiment when the culture has made two songs about this. They want us to reach them. They know that there is a strong need to connect. So where are we? Are we going to continue to sit on our butts in the pews? Are we going to think that our Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon Donations are going to reach people? No. We have to intentionally love people that we see every day.
We have to bring them to Christ. To show them love. To be a neighbor. To be Christ in the world. Our donations in the offering plate is great. But it’s not going to change the world. Our love to the people – as Christ did – is what is going to change the world. It is what is going to change hearts.
Other helpful articles:
“The Main Reason People Leave a Church” by Thom Rainer
“Nine Ways a Pastor Can Lead a Church to Become More Evangelistic” by Thom Rainer
Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World,” which answers many of the questions I get asked on a weekly basis.
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