Tonight I am doing something that I pretty rarely do… go to a concert. Pretty much everyone who knows me well knows that over the last year I’ve become affiliated with the Salt Company. Tonight will be the second time I have gone to Ames to see the original Salt Company; the group that commissioned my church. Well, after Salt in Ames they are having a concert. It’s starting with their band, Anthem, opening for this week’s winner of things I like:

Phil Whickham

I’ve got to be honest with you, I actually do not own any of Phil’s music… BUT I know quite a few of his songs. My roommate James is a big fan of Phil’s and loves to play his songs for Iowa City’s Salt Company. What I really like about Phil Whickham music is his ability to write a song that you can listen to and feel the passion that Phil must have felt when he was writing it. Not only that, but pretty much every song Phil sings can be sung corporately and still feel like it’s a personal love song; like every other voice is backing you as you sing to God.

There is one song of Phil’s that I have to say, I think sounds better not sung his way. Another one of my roommates, Spaid, wrote a punk rock version of Phil’s song ‘True Love.’ I’m pretty sure that in Iowa City I am the only person besides Spaid who prefers his version — but it’s fantastic. I wish it were recorded so I could share it with my readers, but it’s not :-/ sorry.

I’m not saying I don’t like Phil’s version of the song… it’s good too. It is his most powerful song in my mind. When I think of worship songs I think of a story that reads like something like this:

“My life isn’t great, but Jesus takes care of me. He loves me, I love him. This world is bad, but one day Jesus is taking me home”

… That story isn’t bad; it’s not wrong or untrue, but it seems to ignore what really happened; it ignores how Jesus saved you and why. Know what I mean?

Phil’s song, True Love, is nothing like that story. He ignores his own life, he ignores the future coming of Christ, he ignores any focus about himself in this worship song. It’s different from conventional songs. Phil goes back and reflects on what happened to Jesus as a result of himself. The chorus goes like this:

The Earth was shaking in the dark. All creation felt the Father’s broken heart. Tears were filling Heaven’s eyes the day that True Love died. As blood and water hit the ground, walls we couldn’t move came crashing down. We were freed and made alive the day that True Love died.

I know that not everyone who reads my blog is well-versed in scripture, but every part of that chorus goes back to a verse in the Bible talking about the death of Jesus. Phil is reflecting back on that day and he remembers that he is responsible for everything that happens. He caused the Father’s broken heart — the Bible says that God turned his back on the scene. The whole event was so ridiculous that he turned his back and he tore down the cloak entering the Most Holy Place as he LEFT Jerusalem and there were earthquakes as it happened. Phil remembers that he is responsible for that. The agony of Heaven was a result of him. The blood and water that poured on the ground as a spear was thrust into Jesus’ body after he was dead was because of Phil. (I’m using Phil because it’s his song, but anyone’s name can replace his… and that’s what makes it such a beautiful worship song).

But the lyrics don’t end with the reflection of misery and brokenness. Phil finishes by remembering all that terrible stuff is what lead to his salvation. If True Love, Jesus, hadn’t been murdered, Phil’s sin-debt would not have been paid. He gives a very short, one-line reaction to this event. “lose your life, just so you can find it.” Why? “The father gave his only son just to save us”

I love that song. I can’t wait to hear Phil sing it tonight.