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There are a lot of people who believe that you should, under no circumstances, bring secular music into the church. But some would vehemently disagree. Secular music can be used to glorify Christ just as much as the music we label as “praise and worship” or “Christian.” That may sound very opposite of what you’d expect, but what is it that makes music secular? What makes it “Christian” or sacred? Certainly it’s not the music itself; how can certain chords or keys be construed as glorifying God more than others? If it’s not the music, than it has to be the words. Take a love song — one that you might sing to your spouse at your wedding — sung to God, is that not worship? Don’t plenty of “Christian” songs sing about our love of and for Jesus? Where does the difference lie?

Recently, a friend showed me a video of Bishop Lester Love preaching at Mount Zion Baptist Church. When I saw his examples and how he incorporated the secular music into his message, I thought, “This is how it should be done. He’s taken popular love songs that we all know and changed the lyrics to glorify God.” Watch the video for yourself:

When he started singing Alicia Keys’ song, “If I Ain’t Got You,” I started laughing — but not for the reason you might think. I remember driving in the car one day, listening to that song, and it hit me — Stuart, you can sing this as worship to God. So I did; I changed the words, just as he did, and began to worship God by singing:

Some people live for the fortune. Some people live just for the fame. Some people live for the power, yeah. Some people live just to play the game. Some people think that the physical things define what’s within. And I’ve been there before, but that life’s a bore; So full of the superficial.

Some people want it all, but I don’t want nothing at all if it ain’t you Jesus — if I ain’t got you Jesus. Some people want diamond rings, some just want everything, but everything means nothing if I ain’t got You, Yeah.

Some people search for a fountain that promises forever young. Some people need three dozen roses and that’s the only way to prove you love them. Hand me the world on a silver platter and what good would it be with no one to share, with no one who truly cares for me.

Some people want it all, but I don’t want nothing at all if it ain’t You Jesus — if I ain’t got You Jesus. Some people want diamond rings, some just want everything. But everything means nothing if I ain’t got you, you, you. Some people want it all, but I don’t want nothing at all if it ain’t You Jesus — if I ain’t got You Jesus. Some people want diamond rings. Some just want everything, but everything means nothing if I ain’t got you, yeah

If I ain’t got you with me Jesus. So nothing in this whole wide world don’t mean a thing. If I ain’t got you with me Jesus

As I sang my remixed version of the song, I could feel the Presence of God come into my car in a real, tangible way, just as if I was singing a song originally intended for worship — something like a Fred Hammond or Israel Houghton tune. Think about it. It’s a powerful idea — saying to God: “It doesn’t matter what the world offers me; whether it’s diamonds or money or fame or any other temporal gift given to show affection, if I don’t have you in my life, Jesus, it all means nothing.” Shouldn’t that be our heart towards God? A heart that says, “God, if I don’t have you, I don’t want anything else. What could the world have outside of what You give?”

Some people will simply not agree, not matter how hard I try to persuade them. And honestly, that’s ok. To each his own. As long as at the end of the day we both serve the same God and are focused on winning souls into the Kingdom, what difference does it make?

However, for those who don’t believe that the man in the video, or anyone else for that matter, should be using secular songs, with different, revised lyrics, in the church, here’s what I want to ask: What’s the harm? Is God so concerned with the origins of the music rather than the lyrics that we’ve actually given redemptive potential to? Does he tune a deaf ear to the worship because of the way the song was first written? The Bible says that man looks at the outward appearance — the words, possibly the original song — but God looks at the heart, the intent — the heart of the person singing, and their motivation in worship.

Perhaps opposition comes from the thought that saved, church people shouldn’t be listening to secular music to know those songs in the first place. Maybe this had some merit — it is important to guard what we let come into our ears and eyes — but the fact is this: they already know the songs. It’s not as if we’re teaching them new secular songs and then turning them around. In fact, if this was a person’s first time hearing the song, they likely wouldn’t know the difference. But since the listener already knows the song, why not change the song’s meaning? That way, the next time the song is brought to their remembrance, they can sing the version that honors God, instead of the version that doesn’t.

At the end of the day, it’s a strictly person preference and one that could be argued and debated for quite a while. But if souls are being won into the Kingdom through rewritten secular songs, would God care? Wouldn’t He be more concerned and excited about the new souls than the methods we used? Think about it.

{For more from Stuart McDonald, check out his personal blog and follow him on Twitter}

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