Again, for the second year in a row, Chris Tomlin stole the show at the Dove Awards, winning six categories, including best male vocal for the second year. There is no doubt Chris Tomlin is the most successful Christian artist out. Personally, I think some of the songs he has written are amazing and I am grateful for his hard work and dedication to God because through his work we all draw closer to God in worship.
I am somewhat perplexed about a comment that Chris Tomlin made after the Dove Awards when asked about his success. He responded by saying
He must increase and I must decrease. I know this is nothing that I do; I just know that the presence and favor of God is with me." I'm just overwhelmed by the whole thing." "Ultimately, all of this is the favor of God. I'm just trying to be faithful to God and continue to write songs that give people a voice to worship him."
The part of interest to me is the two reference to God's favor. It leads me to ask: (1) What does it mean for God to favor you. (2) How does a person become favored? (3) Why would Chris say the favor of God rest apon him and that is how he explains his success?
The best example of ‘Being Favored” in the Bible in my mind comes from the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The NRSV translates the angle’s announcement to Mary in Luke 1:28 to say, “Greetings, favored one.” Then in verse 30 the angels says that Mary has found “favor” with God. In the next chapter the angles appear to the Shepherds and sing “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors. (Luke 2:14)”
Each usage of the word “favors” has a different definition, however all three of the words have the connotation of “divine grace and acceptance.” Joel Green in his commentary on Luke summarizes the announcement to Mary as follows, “God has given his favor to one who had no claim to worthy status, raised her up from a position of lowliness, and has chosen her to have a central role in salvation history. (NICNT)”
If this is the definition Chris Tomlin is using in his comment, he is saying that God thatGod's favor or grace or acceptance falls upon him.
The next question is in regards to how a person is favored. If what I have said above is true, then being favored has nothing to do with who you are or what you do. It is a gift from God. In Mary’s case, she was a poor young woman, not a person of notable worth. However, God chose her to play an important role. I think Mary represents all of us in ways. None of us deserve merit from God; however, God shows grace to us. I am sure Chris Tomlin would admit that he has done nothing to merit God’s grace in his life; however, God does use him.
I also should note that Mary responds favorably to God’s grace. She says that she is the Lord’s servant. Chris Tomlin seems to have responded positively to God’s grace and calling. He is reaching a lot of people in the name of Jesus.
The answer to the third question is that Chirs Tomlin may have
a skewed definition of “Divine Favor.” Follow the logic with me.
Q- Why are you so popular?
A- God Favors me
Q- Why does God Favor You!
A- Because I am Popular
C- Therefore anyone who is not popular is not favored
This would mean that of all the people writing Christian music, God has chosen to show favor to Chris Tomlin as evidenced by his popularity. (1) I am positive that God uses lots of songwriters and singers besides Chris Tomlin. (2) Success in the world does not always equate with God being glorified. I think there are lots of people who say things that anger God, but in the eyes of the world would be successful. Mother Teresa did not make millions of dollars, but I am convinced that God showed her “favor” and blessed her work in Calcutta.
Let me close by saying that I think Chris Tomlin is a great worship leader who serves the church well. He is a faithful singer and song writer out of a response to God’s favor. HE is responding to the same grace that God shows all people. His music is one avenue that people use to worship. God also uses other singers, song writers, preachers, lay folks, etc. He often does not even use them in that order. Some lay folks are changing the world in more powerful ways than us preachers. I believe God shows us all “favor.” We all have a grace we do not deserve. Will we be a faithful as Chris Tomlin in responding to this grace?
I wish Chirs Tomlin would just say
1. God has blessed me with the gift of writing songs and leading worship
2. God has shown a tremendous amount of grace to me, therefore, I give my ability back to God.
3. God works in powerful ways with the gift that God has given me.
Therefore, I cannot take credit!