A few days ago I was having problems with my music system. I thought I’d fixed it and wanted some music to test it so I looked through the index of music by artist and the first in the list was ABBA.
We first started listening to ABBA when we lived in Germany in 1979 and travelled a lot to Denmark and even ABBA’s own native country, Sweden. We didn’t buy many albums, contenting ourselves with a “Best of …” album and a couple of others. However one we did buy and really enjoy was Super Trouper and this was the one I selected for my test. But I didn’t start at the beginning; for some reason I started with the penultimate track, “Lay All Your Love On Me”.
I love this music and especially the way this song becomes a kind of chorale at the end, repeating these words:
Don’t go wasting your emotion
Lay all your love on me
Don’t go sharing your devotion
Lay all your love on me
As I listened to them repeating over and over, they seemed to me to be an appeal from God Himself.
Of course, my brain intervened and I wanted to understand if this could be right!
Yes, we are told to love God with all our heart etc. but what about loving our neighbours too? Then I remembered something I’d posted almost one year ago: A barrel of love. In that post I recalled a speaker saying that God wanted to fill him to overflowing with His love so that it spilled out from the top of the barrel – over everyone in reach! We are not supposed to try and love our neighbours out of our own love, but out of the overflow of God’s love pouring into us! Now it made sense. If we “lay all our love” on Him, He’ll give us even more back and we will overflow with love for our neighbours in the messiest, best way possible!
This chorale speaks of two aspects of love: emotion and devotion. No doubt ABBA chose these because they needed a rhyme, but of course they also make sense. And for our relationship with God they make sense too.
On the one hand there is emotion – our praise and worship so well illustrated for me by many of the songs of Brooke Fraser-Ligertwood, Amanda Cooke and Steffany Gretzinger, to name but a few. They speak there being “no one else for me, none but Jesus” and of being lost in wonder. Older hymns capture this too and I’ve written about both in the past. (See Lost in Wonder.) This is the way we give our emotional hearts to Him.
And devotion is the way we give our lives to Him. Paul writes in Romans that we are to give our bodies as living sacrifices, which is true (acceptable) worship. This is devotion.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
So this simple chorale seems to me to capture two of the most important elements of our faith.
One last thing. The song was written by ABBA, and I’ve just realised that this is the respectful, yet familiar, name we can use to address God the Father.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
How like Him and, may I say, His sense of humour to use a Swedish pop group to write these words in His name!
So I leave you with the chorale.
Please hear it as an appeal not from ABBA but from your Abba, to lay all your love on Him.