I Can Only Imagine
If you know me you know I’m not a fan of Christian Rock or Contemporary Christian Music. I see the advertisements for the music on the News or online. The Rock band MercyMe was featured on Fox News one morning with vocalist Bart Millard. That caused me to read a little and watch the trailer for the movie, read the lyrics and listen to the song. I won’t go to the movie and I have no need to buy the album. I don’t have a criticism of Millard’s motive for writing the song. His father died in 1991 when he was 18 and he was searching for answers. This is the way contemporary believers find relief. Of course, Millard has won Dove awards and enjoys much popularity for his song and band. I only have a basic criticism of the song.
The song “I Can Only Imagine” is asking the question what it will be like when we stand before God. The lyrics of the second and fourth stanzas read, “Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel, will I dance for you Jesus, or in awe of you be still, will I stand in your presence, or to my knees will I fall?” I want to offer two thoughts. First, our authority for what heaven will be like or any other Christian belief must come from what is Written, not from our own imagination. What comes from our own mind is simple humanism. One can imagine or dream or think about these things all day but you still won’t know anything for sure. Secondly, I searched the Scriptures for anyone who stood before God the Father or Jesus Christ in glory where any bodily action is described. I find only one action: falling on one’s face in reverence and godly fear. Isaiah cried, “Woe is me! For I am undone” (Isa. 6:5); Ezekiel said, “And when I saw it [the throne of God] I fell upon my face” (Ezek. 1:28); Peter, James, and John saw the Lord transfigured and it is recorded, “When the disciples heard it, they fell on their face” (Matt. 17:6); when Saul of Tarsus (the apostle Paul) saw Jesus on the road to Damascus it says, “And he fell to the earth” and only later “Saul arose from the earth” (Acts 9:4, 8); and when John saw Jesus in His resurrected glory on the Isle of Patmos he says, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead” (Rev. 1:17). Now I appreciate Bart Millard’s attempt to think about when he gets to heaven and sees Jesus, but if revelation, not imagination, is any authority, our feet will not want to proudly stand or dance. They will fall at His lovely feet and praise Him for His grace that we are there at all!