Does anyone else have a hard time with the irreverent and excessive use of the word “all” in Christian worship culture?
It’s as if by saying it we can somehow pretend like we are “all-in.” But, what “all” are we talking about? It seems to be really easy to use such inclusive words when we maintain such a non-specific aroma to our words. Let’s just leave it as “all” or “all my life.” That way we don’t have to think too much about what “all” really means.
Sorry about the pessimistic rant, but I don’t really think the majority of Christians who sing these songs are being honest with their words. Of course, it’s nice to sing them because it makes us feel as if it might be true. And, in the moment, it probably feels very true. I think “all” mostly means, “All of my attention and affection while I’m here at church singing this song or listening to the pastor.”
I would love to hear a worship leader recognize how difficult these kind of songs can be, especially for those new to the church. I remember it being so difficult to stand there singing these “all” songs without looking around and thinking, “I doubt anyone in here is being honest with themselves when they sing those words. I know I can’t sing these word honestly. They’re just caught up in the moment, pretending to be someone they’re not.”
Anyone who has played hold’em knows that all-in means, “all in!” There’s no holding anything back.
Most of us don’t actually give Jesus all of our lives, although many of us intend to and are trying to respond to every prompting of the Spirit to live as much. There’s always more to give, right? Does it really matter how much of “all” we give to God? It has more to do with how much He has given us, not what we can do for Him! But, if that’s true, why do we feel like we have to sing about it in our songs that are supposed to be worshiping Him for who HE is. What if a large majority of our worship songs are worshiping our devotion to Him instead of His devotion to us? Scary. Even scarier if we’re lying or exaggerating our devotion, the object of our worship.
What does it mean to but all our trust in Him? Does that mean complete, exclusive trust in Him? Is it possible to trust in God with our “all” while trusting our retirement to provide for us when we are done working, our insurance to take care of us when we get sick, and our emergency fund to rescue us when things go badly? What does “all” really mean? Is it possible to trust two things simultaneously and still claim “all” status for either one of them?
“All I need is You… and oxygen… and food… and clothing… and people who love me unconditionally…” “All” is such a tricky word. I know a lot of people who desire to be completely satisfied by God himself. So much so that they are scared to enter into any sort of relationship that could possibly make them happy because they think that they will no longer be “all-in” with Jesus. What if significant others, children, families and communities aren’t the source of our satisfaction, but are in fact the very vessel of God’s satisfaction into our lives? If that were true it would be working against God to refuse those people access into our lives.
Here’s what I have done. Maybe this will be helpful to you when you encounter these songs at church next time or hear yourself saying these “all” statement when you don’t know if you actually believe them yourselves. Make them into statements of intent, if indeed that is your intent. “I desire for all of my trust to be in You (whether that comes through miraculous provision or a reliable job).” Maybe we need to be better at seeing God in all things, and better at not lying about our commitment to our God in order to feel good about ourselves. Maybe we need to refocus on God’s all directed to us and be less concerned with our all toward Him.