Hymn: “When Christ Was Lifted from the Earth” – Brian Wren (1936- )
Various Tunes – Most common ST. BOTOLPH
One of the most insightful hymn writers of the 20th Century into this century is Brian Wren. As one who applies himself to the penning of an occasional hymn or anthem text, I marvel at Wren’s ability to word his faith so bluntly and creatively.
In this hymnline, Wren speaks a loud and clear word of acceptance, saying that Christ overlooks the human-attached labels and sees instead the individual – the face, the person, the name. I believe that is exactly how Christ observes all people… and I am convinced that his example of acceptance should be imitated by those of us who say that we are followers of the King. [By the way, he concludes the hymn with an admonition to accept as Christ has accepted us.]
Probably no group on earth is more involved in the needless act of labeling than the Christian community… especially the more fundamental, narrow fringes. Why do we do that? What gives us the right to overlook the “judge not” passages? (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37, etc.) Even those of us who would never voice our label-attachments may mentally do so. Shame on us!
It’s something we need to stop doing… and we need to speak out against those who do. Tagging is not Christlike behavior – accepting by grace is. If the perfect One can look beyond our faults, shouldn’t we do that to our fellow strugglers?
I also like the way Wren says that Christ sees a face, a person, and a name. That tells me that if I get to know some of the people whom I might be inclined to brand – if I got to know their name, their circumstance, their plight – I might be less inclined.
This is a powerful, needed message for those of us who are serious about acting out our faith. Even though it is tucked away in the middle of a hymn you may not know, it should leap off the page and into our hearts to change us if need be.
I’ve heard that we should always err on the side of grace. This hymnline echoes that adage.
Originally Posted 11/03/2013