How do you describe
A love that goes from East to West
And runs as deep as it is wide?
You know all our hopes
Lord, You know all our fears
And words cannot express the love we feel
But we long for You to hear.
So listen to our hearts
Hear our spirits sing
A song of praise that flows
For those You have redeemed
And we use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are
But when words are not enough
To tell You of our love
Just listen to our hearts.
If words could fall like rain
From these lips of mine
And if I had a thousand years
I would still run out of time.
So if You listen to my heart
Every beat will say
Thank you for the Life
Thank you for the Truth
Thank you for the Way.
It's a relatively new hymn, as you can tell by all the syncopation, which no ordinary church member sings correctly, and by a three note repetitive "melody" in the verse section, supplemented only by a low sol as an occasional trampoline. (Can't anyone write an actual melody anymore?) Still, especially with the added chorus, it's catchy and you find yourself humming it later in the week. But these are not my main issues with the song.
"Listen to Our Hearts," the lyrics ask of God, and my mind immediately goes to Romans 8 where we are promised that even when we don't know what to pray for, we have an advocate and intermediary who will take the thoughts behind our meager words and deliver them to the Father. But wait! That is not what this song is about. Look at the chorus again.
"When words are not enough/ to tell you of our love/ listen to our hearts." If it means anything, it means that the best way we can express our love to God is to have a good heart. Really?
John tells us in his first epistle, Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1John 3:18); and For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1John 5:3). He adds in his second epistle, And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it (2John 1:6). And where did John ever get such a notion? Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him (John 14:21).
I imagine that most of the people reading this will instantly say, "Well, of course." But there are quite a few out there for whom this is a revelation. In the so-called Christian world, a good heart is supposed to be the cure for everything, including outright sin. When we sing this song in our services and some of those people are sitting there next to you, perhaps friends and neighbors you invited, you just might be encouraging them in this false doctrine. I suppose that if they are people you personally have brought to services you could take them aside afterward and say, "About that song…" and tell them you didn't really mean it that way. But their first question might be embarrassing. "You mean you sing things you don't mean?"
I doubt that anything I say here will change the popularity of this song. In fact, if we changed the words to something more scriptural, like, "When words are not enough/ to tell you of our love/ watch how we obey," or "Wa-atch how we walk," that would be its death knell. Who would want to sing something so emotionally unsatisfying? But maybe the next time it is led in your group you will remember that Jesus told us exactly how to show our love for both him and the Father: Walk like he walked. Of course we should obey from the heart, as Paul says in Rom 6:17, and our life of obedience should be sincere, but that is a far cry from pandering to modern emotionalism.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15).