From my mid-teens to my early twenties I dabbled a little in songwriting.
There were tunes that came to my head that I was happy to craft lyrics for. The craft of getting a lyric would sometimes be the inspiration for the whole song. I loved that whole creative process. What those times taught me very clearly was that crafting a good lyric is an art to be truly appreciated. There are many songs out there that suffer because of turgid, insipid, ill-considered lyrics. Getting a lyric spot on, then and creating a whole lyrical construct of great quality can be settled in the mind for virtually the rest of someone’s life.
Commissioned were one of those groups I got into because my sister got into them. She usually had good taste in gospel music and this proved to be no different. One song in particular that grabbed my attention especially when it was sung again in their Reunion special was the song Lord Jesus, Help Me To Help Somebody Else. Lyrically that’s a power-packed song. It’s simple basis of seeing that the love of the Lord is intended for us to experience and then share with others in a world that lacks it remains as true today as it did when those brothers sung it originally almost 30 years ago.
So there’s this line in the end part of the song that they repeat to close. It’s not on the original album version but it is on the Reunion version and as I only recently discovered was something they had done on live versions shortly after the song was released. The line says If you love somebody it will bring a smile.
When I first heard that line, I thought it was a cheesy cop out of a line. As though the writer couldn’t be bothered to come up with anything with sting and power, so just went for something cheesy.
Yet in considering further I noted that we as Christians can make this following Jesus more complex than it needs to be. If you get into some of the murky waters of church life with its procedures, regulations, constitutions, manuals and the like you wonder where anyone finds the time to actually follow Jesus. Then there’s all those conventions and traditions that people hold onto as well which leaves the work of certain things to certain people because we’re not as educated, equipped and suited for the role.
As with the critique against the traditions of men in the times of Jesus, there’s a good argument to be made that we’ve preferred the traditions of men rather than the commands of God. The command of God says to love Him with everything and love our neighbour as ourselves. The scope of neighbour as Jesus clarified, was not limited to people we like or people that’s our own kind. Acts of love, likewise can be as varied as paying for the rent of a neighbour, sending over some food to those who are hungry, even giving a cup of water to someone in need. doing something in the name of Jesus to express His love is the requirement for every follower of Jesus and it’s well within a follower’s capacity to do that – without needing to refer to traditions, conventions, procedures, manuals etc.
That shouldn’t be done for the gain of reward from those who we love, but when we let our lights shine to people, they will see the good works and glorify God. That whole glorifying God business is not a morose and hangdog experience. That’s a joy-filled, celebratory occasion including smiles.
If you love somebody it will bring a smile.
Maybe that smile is reward enough and the change in someone else’s day to turn them towards that amazing grace of God. Even if they don’t collapse in a heap screaming out to Jesus, maybe just the smile of receiving love is enough.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden