One of my favorite modern worship songs is called How He Loves Us (here, https://youtu.be/TCunuL58odQ?list=RDTCunuL58odQ). Written by John Mark McMillian, the version I prefer is performed by the David Crowder Band.
The version I prefer no longer exists. Marched to the unimaginative court of the Christian judge and jury, it has been – tragically – executed. The execution was held in the basketball hooped auditoriums and multipurpose rooms throughout the land; otherwise known as the Christian Worship Center.
The criminal in this shameless execution is one phrase,
Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.
It’s gone. In fact, it has been gone for years. Such a shame. It has been replaced with,
Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss.
I don’t even know what that means.
The sanctimonious tone of the pious pied piper has been played. We, all like children being lead astray by a tune winding down a dark and aimless alley, have replaced the most important lyric in the song; believing we are holier for it.
I remain – to this day – dismayed over the demise of this crucial and imaginative phrase. Of course, I don’t have to sing the song, ever. But if I do, then it will include the original wording, Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.
So allow me – if only for humor’s sake – to identify Four Reasons Why I Want A Sloppy Wet Kiss or No Kiss at All.
First, an unforeseen kiss makes little sense when cast against the rich and robust lyrics of the song. The word, unforeseen, is soft, sterile and saccharine. It hardly carries the gravitas to describe the God of whom this song speaks.
Consider just a few of the other phrases in the song,
- “If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.”
- “Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree.”
- “My heart turns violently inside of my chest.”
Let me get this straight . . .
My heart is supposed to shake my being with violence because of an unforeseen kiss?
A better sentence for the term unforeseen might be something like,
“Sorry guys but my gastrointestinal problems were, certainly, unforeseen before I boarded the plane.”
Secondly, I am convinced that I would gladly receive and wonderfully enjoy a sloppy wet kiss!! An ‘unforeseen kiss?’ I am not so sure.
Why? I may or may not know the person from whom an unforeseen kiss might come.
We all remember our childhood family holiday’s, right? Every family has that aunt who got out of the government-run nursing home a day or two before bath day to enjoy the holiday with friends and extended family. As a child of ten or twelve years old, you anticipate such holidays to be a joyous and feast ridden festival. As you travel to your destination, you imagine the time you will spend with your cousins, friends and ALL the fantastic food you will consume.
Finally, after hours of travel, you arrive! You merrily walk through the threshold to the holiday to end all holidays when suddenly, out of nowhere, your second cousin’s (twice removed) great aunt lays one on you: SMACK!
is an unforeseen kiss!
will never capture – in its best moments – God’s love for us.
is the phrase we sing?
Third, as I stated earlier, I am going to welcome, receive and delight in a sloppy wet kiss! Yes, a sloppy wet kiss will likely make my heart pound inside of my chest.
There are two people who give me sloppy wet kisses. There are no more, just two.
- My wife, Melissa (and you better believe that I want and desire sloppy wet kisses from her). Her kiss stirs my heart and my imagination. Her kiss animates my soul! Indeed. I know her. I know her deeply. I know her well. I know her wonderfully. Her kiss is symbolic of and leads to intimacy. Mind bending, wonder-working, joy to the soul, life-to-the-limb intimacy. Her kiss is NEVER unforeseen because it assumes and anticipates relationship!
- The second person is a category of person: Babies! Babies are great at this. When my children were young – baby/toddler age – they would open their mouth wide and come in for a face plant landing kiss – right on my lips! Sloppy. Wonderful. Heart-pounding. Joy. Again, a kiss that assumes and anticipates relationship.
Therein lies the power of this phrase. Between the two phrases, only a sloppy wet kiss is symbolic of and leads to intimacy!
Yes, I will take a sloppy wet kiss any day.
You can have your overdone, sterilized version of intimacy you call an unforeseen kiss. Keep it. If it makes you feel better, then sing it that way.
Feeling better, however, doesn’t seem to align with authorial intent. He seems to be after mystery. He seems to be after imagination.
That leads me to my fourth and final reason I will take a sloppy wet kiss or no kiss at all.
Simply put: the phrase – Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss – more aptly captures the delight our Lord has over us and the joy He takes in us. The phrase is saturated with intimacy, meaning, purpose and imagination.
Our problem with this phrase, Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss, likely has more to do with a lack of imagination than it does theological conviction!
In his book, Against an Infinite Horizon, Ron Rohleiser relates a story of what took place the night before C.S. Lewis would bend his knee to the Messiah. Lewis spent hours talking and walking with J.R.R Tolkien (author of The Lord of the Rings). Toward the end of their time together, Tolkien summed up Lewis’ problem in this one statement:
‘Your inability to understand stems from a failure of imagination on your part!’
Hmm . . . .
Perhaps that is our problem today. We suffer from a failure of imagination.
This failure of imagination is the reason behind our inability to conceive of God as one who delivers sloppy wet kisses and heart thumping hurricanes.
If you stumble into a small congregation called Pillar Community Church in Vero Beach, Florida, we invite you to sing with your imagination! When you see How He Loves in the bulletin, prepare yourself!
We are keeping the sloppy wet kiss and giving the sorry seconds of the unforeseen kiss to the disembodied witness of the unimaginative church.
Disrupting to Renew!