It is certainly not a new thing for celebrity singers to record a “gospel” album. Even Elvis had one. To hear a famous voice sing the hymns causes many of us in the South to go back to a childhood memory and revisit a time with parents or grandparents on a Sunday morning. I have always hoped and prayed that when I would hear of one of these albums that the artist was in deed singing his or her heart out to the Lord. Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, all of them awesome singers, all I have prayed that they truly have a relationship with Jesus as they sing about Him.
I had to pause however, when reading about and listening to Harry Connick Jr.’s daytime talk show Harry from earlier this week. His guest was Oprah Winfrey. Oprah, known to millions, discussed politics, her prayer life and even how she handles fame but where I drew the line in acceptance is when she broke out in song. Not just any song, Judson W. Van DeVenter’s “I Surrender All,” a famous hymn that we sing often at our church. The secular world has captured many of the Church’s well known songs of praise and put their own spin to them. How Great Thou Art, To God Be the Glory, even Amazing Grace. All fine and good as these songs can be interpreted in varied ways, I Surrender All cannot be. Yes, I know, Oprah has claimed this song as her own back in 1985 as the song she sang to get the part of Sofia in The Color Purple. But her outspoken life since then, open to all ways of spiritual expression and multiple ways to Salvation, nullifies her sincerity to the meaning of this song and the lyrics which devote one’s life totally and only to Jesus Christ.
The song is about complete surrender to Jesus Christ. "All to him I freely give". It talks about surrendering worldly pleasures and invites the presence of the Holy Spirit. It ends by claiming salvation due to surrender to Jesus and Him alone. How can someone really believe this, sing this out and then honestly accept the religions of this world as equal? And it is not so much Oprah that I have a problem with. It is Christians who agree with her. Relevant Magazine covered the story as if Oprah is now leading in worship. Just because someone uses the words and looks the part does not make it so when he or she has been so open in a life of rebellion towards the exclusivity of Christ. https://relevantmagazine.com/video/oprah-led-worship-on-harry-connick-jr-s-talk-show/
Jesus is clear about this subject; you cannot have it both ways. You cannot serve two masters. You will love the one and hate the other. Oprah, like many others, has found spirituality in her own way, but she cannot claim to surrender all to Jesus and hold on to and support the things He has told us to let go of. We too must call it what it is, not in judgment but in truth.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his lifewill lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:24-27
Serving the Savior
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