I love contemporary Christian music (CCM). I have a list of songs I wish we'd sing in worship, as a matter of fact. But I also have a list of criticisms of CCM, and one hit me in a big way this week. Of all the things we sing about in CCM, we seem to incredibly rarely sing about heaven. And that's a mistake.
Maybe it's because I grew up with a hymnal titled Heavenly Highway Hymns, or maybe it's because of the deteriorating state of the world today, but I enjoy -- and consequently miss -- singing about heaven. We cover a lot of ground with Christus Victor, Christ giving us victory over evil through the cross, but it all seems temporal, earthly. We need to recognize our victory over sin in this life, yes, but what about for eternity? Victory over death and hell just doesn't get much air time these days.
Part of the blame rests squarely on the academy. Somewhere in the last century or so, scholars stopped believing in heaven (and hell, too). Preachers no longer preach about a perfect place, a new and final creation by God, a place which will never know the stain of sin. Instead, they are taught and they preach we remain on this same earth, only God fixes the bad parts. Nothing else changes, and God stays in His heaven apart from us.
It's hard to sing about things like that.
I prefer to sing things like "Hide Me, Rock of Ages," songs about life, death, and heaven. (We really don't sing about death anymore; we even cut out those verses from our hymns.) I want to sing about it all because all of it is real, all of it is true, and all of it means one day I will sing praises to my God face to face.