There is a hit song today by the artist Pharrell Williams entitled “Happy.” Some of the reason the song is such a hit is that it is also one of the songs in the movie, Despicable Me 2. Both the song and movie are very fun, and let me state I have no issue with either. We have listened to the song and watched the movie and enjoy both of them. However, this past week I saw a post from someone whose church opened their service with a rendition of this song. Now, from what I saw they changed some of the words but they kept the chorus. The chorus is this:
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if feel like that’s what you wanna do.
Now, I know some may say, “Well, if you listen to it but won’t sing it in church, that is hypocritical.” That thinking is wrong on so many levels. When my boys were growing up we sang a lot of silly songs that were fun, some made no sense at all but they were fun to sing. These songs were not gushing with truth. When we gather as a body to worship God, that means what we say about Him must be truth: we worship "in spirit and in truth." I say quite often that it is just as wrong to sing a lie as it is for me to preach a lie. Everything we do should be centered around the truth of God. As I watched this song being sung and the words on the screen I couldn’t help but wonder how Job would have felt if he walked into that service looking for some truth to hold to in the midst of pain. To make things more relevant, I thought about the lady in our church, broken over her marriage or the man in our church fighting cancer whose wife is ministering to him.
Is happiness the truth? Is it really? Does that call to “worship" coincide with, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world“ (John 16:33)? Lest I misinterpret something in that passage, I looked a bit further and found, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Paul says, “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses” (2 Corinthians 6:4). I have said on multiple occasions that truth transcends culture. The truth of the Gospel is not truth only in America, it is truth world wide. I just can’t help but think that many of those people who were singing that probably would be quick to distance themselves from a Joel Osteen and well we should, but is there a dime's worth of difference between what they were singing and what Joel preaches? We damage our people when we equate a song like this to biblical truth. Life is going to hit them hard at times and, if what I teach them when our focus should be centered around God and the truth of the Word as we worship Him, is the lie that “happiness is the truth” then...we are setting them up for happiness to actually be their god. When that happiness leaves and is replaced by heartache, they will be disillusioned by the false picture I have painted. When I have called a lie “truth,” it is not keeping watch over their soul but rather it is harming them with a lie that is only true in America or a cartoon. I find it ironic that the name of the cartoon that this song is originally played in probably has more truth than a church singing this type of song in worship! “Despicable Me” - that title alone is a cold hard truth about who we are apart from Him. Outside of Christ we are unclean, we are despicable. But, a song like that isn’t going to be a hit on your local radio station.
Our goal isn’t to be a hit in the world but rather, our goal is to glorify Christ in our happy times and in my heartache - when life hurts, when the marriage is a mess, when I am wondering where God is. I have to know then that “Happiness” is not the truth, the Word of God is. It’s okay to think “Happy” is a fun song the same way a cartoon is a fun watch, but neither of them give me truth. When we worship, when we sing we are proclaiming truth that will transform us and glorify God. We live in a day, that “Happy” doesn’t cut it. That doesn’t sound nice, but it certainly is truth.