If you spend an afternoon casually listening to a Christian music radio station, you will likely encounter repetition. Stations use relatively limited playlists and promote the songs and artists they perceive as popular. I am not keen on the lack of variety, but I understand the purpose of the redundancies. Secular pop stations are using basically the same format. Perhaps, consolidation of interests is a good thing for a market of finite consumers with finite resources. You are vaguely aware of and somewhat consenting to this repetition when you turn on a Christian music station.
What really abrades me, though, is the undue recurrence in themes, imagery, and word choice. Basically, all of contemporary Christian music reduces to a mere handful of thematic genres. But the Christian life involves a range of emotions and experiences, which are addressed by the certain truths that comprise the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
Recently, I attempted a reconciliation with Christian music. I have been too cynical, scrutinous, and dismissive toward it. Yet, in about a week of listening to a few Christian music stations during my commutes, my agitation returned. I noticed a handful of songs repeating the same language, and it was not language common to our Christian confession like divine names or biblically significant images. What I heard over and over again was an admonition to “let go”—indeed, a precarious piece of advice for someone operating a vehicle.
More than a mere handful of songs use this clichéd expression. I found dozens of songs using it, and it is so common that there are alternative meanings for the phrase. For your listening pleasure, I’ve gathered a few examples in this Christian music supercut (YouTube Link).
I am not looking to wage logomachy against the artists using this expression. Rather, I want to call attention to this inept and shallow phrase. Is it a befitting phrase for Christians to use in their dialogue with one another? Should we counsel each other to “let go” of sinful behaviors or lingering emotional pain?
I readily admit that I am too casual about my own sin. The entire process of my repentance is long and drawn out. I am slow to recognize a sin, hesitant to call something sinful, and often blenching at the prospect of confessing it. The least helpful encouragement I could receive is a passive instruction like “let it go.” “It” has a terribly habit of coming back. The scriptures give us active directives against sin. We are called to deny ourselves, put away sinful behaviors, put to death the flesh, and repent of wicked works.
Let’s not be picky about language just to entertain ourselves or impress others. However, we should be critically exacting with the words we use to encourage others and ourselves in pursuing Christlikeness.