A Song To Make Us Think

As a teenager, I liked the music of B.J. Thomas — especially “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” So I praised the Lord when, somewhere around 1979, he made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. I bought both of his Christian albums and wore out my cassette player by playing them.

Monday John put “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” on YouTube in honor of the weather. I then asked him to search for Thomas’ Christian songs (he had no idea that B.J. Thomas had recorded Christian songs), and we were pleasantly surprised that YouTube had quite a number of them.

Of course they were simplistic and a tad smaltzy. Most popular Christian music during that time period was. But John and I listened to several songs, hoping B.J. Thomas had a genuine conversion.

One song captured my attention.

Certainly, I appreciate the emphasis on seeing Jesus. All too often, evangelicals depict heaven as endless pleasure and fulfillment, almost relegating Jesus to the sidelines. Very few evangelicals remember Revelation 5:11-14, in which the apostle John describes heaven as focusing completely on Jesus Christ as a worthy Lamb Who was slain.

Praise the Lord that B.J. Thomas recorded a song celebrating the glorious wonder of being face-to-face with the Lord. Other than hymns by Fanny Crosby, I can think of few songs about seeing Him. Therefore Thomas’ song bought me joy.

It still brings me joy.

But the song also bothered me somewhat. While Christians by all means should eagerly anticipate seeing the Lord, I fear we frequently ignore the reality that our initial view of Him might be less warm and fuzzy as Thomas’ song indicates. Evangelicals seldom remember that we will see Christ in His glorified body rather than as He appeared before His ascension.

I could be mistaken, I realize, but lately it seems to me that our first encounter with the Lord may well be similar to the apostle John’s experience when Jesus Christ came to him on the isle of Patmos.

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And after turning I saw seven golden lampstands; 13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and wrapped around the chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze when it has been heated to a glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. ~~Revelation 1:12-18 (NASB)

Notice the first sentence in verse 17. John, who had personally witnessed the Transfiguration and yet afterwards had rested his head on Jesus’ chest, fell like a dead man when he first saw the glorified Christ. The fact that someone so intimate with Jesus should respond to seeing Him in His glorified body makes me wonder how I’ll respond to Him the first time I see His face.

Perhaps Jesus will, as Thomas’ song says, smile, open His arms and walk my way when I enter heaven. Does that necessarily mean that I won’t at the very least tremble at my first sight of Him? Truthfully, I doubt it. The more I study the Bible, the more I believe His majesty and exquisite glory will overwhelm me. As He smiles, opens His arms and walks my way, won’t I be awestruck by His greatness? Might I fall at His feet just as John did?

Obviously, a song is never meant to contain a fully developed theology, and we can appreciate B.J. Thomas’ song for its simple expression of joy in anticipating his first physical encounter with Jesus. Would that more evangelicals equated heaven with focusing their gaze on the Lord!

I only hope that his song will encourage us to think more deeply and Biblically about seeing Jesus. If we’re truly Christians, we indeed are gonna look into His eyes some day.

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