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Jesus, My Soul’s Deepest Desire?

Laura Story’s newish song-hymn, “What a Savior,” presents us with an interesting theological conundrum. It’s a kind of brain-teaser not unlike the one introduced to many confused Christians when they are asked to sing “I Surrender All” in church on Sunday morning. The riddle is all the more interesting in light of the recent exchange between Tullian Tchividjian and Rick Phillips about whether or not the believer is still totally depraved. The former’s original post can be found here, and the latter’s two posts here and here. Tchividjian’s most recent reply is here.

So, with regard to the older hymn, the question we might ask is “do I surrender all?” Can I sing these words in good conscience? Do I really, at every moment of every day, surrender all to Jesus? Or, with regard to the newer song, is Laura Story simply singing with an over-realized eschatology when she vocalizes these words:

Jesus, You are higher
My soul’s deepest desire
Hallelujah, You are Savior

Can the Christian really sing that Jesus is his “deepest desire?”

It seems at this point some Christians really, to put it technically, freak-out. They tend to think that if they do these things imperfectly, then they can’t do them at all. They see times in their lives when they don’t surrender themselves to Jesus, or when they desire something more, or deeper, then Jesus. And so, they throw their hands up in the air, and they surrender Jesus to all. They run back to their justification, and take refuge there and forget about desiring Jesus and surrendering their lives over to him.

But is this biblical, or just another form pietism? I know pietism as a formal, technical theological and historical term is complicated. But the way I intend its use here is to denote a false, reductionistic view of piety and the Christian life.

And I do believe it is false piety to conclude that because you cannot do something perfectly means that you can’t (or shouldn’t try to) do it at all. When I was converted, Jesus really did become my deepest desire. Does that mean I’m perfect? No. Does that mean that I always act like he’s my deepest desire? No. That won’t happen until glory. But what it does mean is that when the Holy Spirit regenerated me, I changed. My fundamental dispositions (or, what the older theologians called the habitus) has changed. By grace, Jesus IS my deepest desire – even when I don’t act accordingly or feel that desire. And while it is my duty as a Christian to nurture and nourish that desire, I will often find myself falling short of the glory of God. But that does not mean that I do not have that fundamental disposition already ruling and reign my life. Christ is my King. He is at the center of my life. God has made me sell out my life for his sake. In body and soul, I am not my own, but I belong to my faithful Savior who has purchased me with his precious blood. And that is the case even when I don’t actual feel desire for his Glory or when I don’t live for his Glory.

Therefore, sing these fine hymns, Christian! And do so in good conscience! You are a recipient of God’s grace. You are in Christ. And in him you are righteous because of his merits, and you are a new creature in him having your old heart of stone removed and it has been replaced with a heart of flesh that is beating and alive. You are no longer dead in your sins and your trespasses, but you have been made alive!

Atoning sacrifice
Keeper of this life
Hallelujah, You are Savior
Beginning and the end
Forgiver of my sin
By Your mercy You have saved us

Jesus, You are stronger
More than any other
Hallelujah, what a Savior
Jesus, You are higher
My soul’s deepest desire
Hallelujah, You are Savior


On Key

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