How Great Is Your Mess

Because I periodically listen to Christian radio, and because I consistently go to Sunday services, I often have various worship songs on my mind. The thing is, I often end up using the melodies of these songs to sing about the frustrating, and perhaps somewhat mundane, circumstances of my life. For example, I will take Chris Tomlin’s song “How Great is our God” the first two stanzas and chorus of which are:

The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

And, I will convert the lyrics to the following about the mess my four kids often make around the house:

The wrappers on the floor, the crumbs I can’t ignore
your stuff is everywhere
your stuff is everywhere

You can’t put stuff away, and I think that is gay
though that’s not PC to say
though that’s not PC to say

How great is your mess, come sing with me
How great is your mess, and all will see
How great, how great is your mess

I have to confess that when I do this, I am a little concerned that I am being a bit too  irreverent. These songs were created by artists to praise God, and here I am taking them to vent my frustrations, and address very ordinary things. On the other hand, God did endow me with all my talents, including this weird one, and I tend to think that God has a sense of humor.


This video gives both the lyrics and the melody

And this video provides a brief interview with the artist and a nice live version.


Chris Tomlin’s Website

6 Responses to “How Great Is Your Mess”

  1. Roger Green  

    I’m sorry, but I have no idea WHY this this a problem. Music is fungible, usable in all sorts of situation. The Star Spangeled Banner used the music to a drinking song. No big deal, man.

  2. Anthony Velez  

    Roger – I’m inclined to agree with you, but there is an idea within the Christian tradition, borrowing from Aristotelian philosophy, that all things are endowed with their own proper end, and so if the end of music is to glorify God, then one falls short if one uses it towards other ends. On the other hand, I tend to think that music is a phenomena that has many proper uses, humor being one of them. Still, having said this, and though I am one who doesn’t mind taking a poke a sacred cows of all faiths and denominations, I do think that our culture can be inordinately irreverent, and so, it is worthwhile to ask when is the line crossed.

  3. Roger Green  

    How do you feel about secular music turned sacred? Albert Schweitzer, among others, wrote about this phenomenon.

    More recently, I have heard songs such as the Rolling Stones’ I Am Waiting by Ollabelle and Marvin Gaye’s How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You by Cissy Houston treated a sacred, especially the latter, which specifically evokes Jesus.

    I guess my point is that an awful lot of borrowing has always taken place in music, and attributing an “inappropriate” ditty to a sacred song is minimally problematic, at best, for me.

  4. Anthony Velez  

    The first thing that came to mind in response to your question is the response to the first question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, which states that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” Basically, I think that nothing achieves its fullest potential, its highest glory unless it is oriented upon, or directed toward God. So, it could be that when secular music is appropriated for secular purposes, it is a kind of redeeming action. On the other hand, I have seen Christians appropriate secular music in manners that were just silly or potentially offensive. The issue here is artistic integrity, respect for people’s work, etc. Thus, I would want to be very sensitive and conscientious as to how the music of other artists is appropriated and used toward ends different than they originally intended.

  5. Roger Green  

    I tend to agree with your original last sentence: “I tend to think that God has a sense of humor.” Otherwise, why do I hear Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee in chicken?

  6. K.L.B.  

    Your post made me laugh! YES That is SO GAY! I wish I could write more, but suffice it to say that our Saviour was born with the stench of animal shit in His holy infant nostrils, and I’m regularly exposed to it as well… which is why I wear shoes in the house (not my own). Oh well, I’m happy! “Shit! Clean that nasty shit up! Damn! Take pride man!” Know what the best part about having a clean toilet and bathroom is? Having a clean toilet and bathroom! If cleanliness ain’t next to godliness, I’m outta’ here!

    But seriously, notice this: The Gadarene demoniac was not only in HIS right mind (the thing stolen from him), but he was clothed, and most likely clean. I mean, who ever heard of putting clean clothes on a dirty body? So there IS something to be said about organization, sanitation, and maintenance. I think the Scriptures endorse those practices. And they come about as a DIRECT result of God’s DIRECT intervention in our lives.