I wrote “Beautiful God” with my friend James Tealy (who’s actually my neighbor down the street). James is an incredibly songwriter and a gifted worship leader who leads the congregation at Redemption City in Franklin, TN every weekend. When he and I get together to write, as worship leaders, very often we’re trying to find ways to connect our congregation’s to what God has been doing in our church services. In writing “Beautiful God” we wanted to find words for those special moments that sometimes happen in a worship service where God’s presence feels almost tangible and all we can do is acknowledge Him and worship Him.
Entering into God’s presence can be a vulnerable moment. It’s only natural that when faced with God’s infinite goodness and perfection, we’re confronted by all of our mistakes, sins, and shortcomings. But the great news is that through Jesus Christ, we can be counted as righteous before God. Check out what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Through His sacrifice, we get to enjoy the the same eternal life that came bursting forth from the tomb. God gave us one of the best pictures of this that we get to participate in through baptism.
Thinking about baptism and this song, I’m reminded of this moment that happened on my and Hannah’s wedding day, right before the wedding ceremony started. I was standing back stage with Pastor Dan Scott while all of my groomsmen were busy seating guests, and my best man Josh Wilson was walking my grandmother down the aisle. I was beginning to feel nervous and to break the silence, I asked my pastor, “Do you have any last minute advice for me?”
Pastor Dan paused, looked at me thoughtfully, and said, “Well, you have no idea what you’re doing!”
I was dumbfounded! That was not the answer I was expecting. But Pastor Dan smiled, seeing the look on my face, and he continued, “Right now, you have no way of knowing what’s about to happen to you, and that’s okay. This is so much more than a contract between you and another person. This is a holy matrimony. You and Hannah are about to enter into a covenant before God and with God. He’s going to bind your lives together in a very real and supernatural way, and you won’t be able to understand it. You’ll catch glimpses of it along the way over the years as you look back over your shoulder at how far God has led you. You’ll be able to see that He intertwined your lives together in an inseparable way that only He can do.”
In many ways, I think baptism is one of those kinds of moments. On the one hand, it’s definitely a powerful symbol of how we join Jesus in his death, burial and resurrection, and it’s a part of our public profession of faith, but I think it’s also somehow more to it than that. I think that God chooses that moment to do something transformative in our hearts. It’s not that there’s anything about the water that saves us, but I think God takes that act of obedience and uses it to do something supernatural and unexplainable in our hearts. Baptism creates both a practical and spiritual land mark that we can look back on for the rest of our lives and say, “From this point forward, I’m going to live a resurrected life with Jesus!”
My hope and prayer for the this song is that it can sung by churches all over the country and the world, acknowledging God’s presence, and acknowledging his miraculous grace that enables us to rest in his presence without guilt or shame. Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we have been made us righteous, and now we can rest confidently in his presence and worship him for the magnificent, Beautiful God He is.
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