We have split churches over it. We have split services over it. Young people, come on Saturday night and we will play your music, and senior citizens come at 8:00am because you get up early anyway and we will play the hymns with the organ. We get mad at each other for it, we choose a church based on it. Sometimes we even build our churches completely around it!
Ok people. We’re all guilty. You don’t like drums, I don’t like repetition, he doesn’t like hymns, she doesn’t like that new contemporary guy.
When these disputes arise, we have completely forgotten the central foundation of the Church:
Church is not about me, and it is not about you.
What are the two commandments on which all of Christianity is built?
- You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deut 6.5, Matt 22.37).
- You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19.18, Matt 22.39).
Church is about God. To praise Him, worship Him, to learn about Him and push one another on to love and know Him. Music at church should be based on those two commandments. You can test it by them. Does it honor God? Does it speak truths about Him? Does it exemplify His greatness? Does it rejoice in Him? If the music is Biblically sound and if it glorifies God, do you know what the next question is that we should ask and consider?
Does my neighbor like it? And does it help him to praise God?
Whoa. Yes, that is a radical thought. I personally love the hymns, ancient and modern. I am a classically trained pianist, I grew up with liturgy and I am a thinker. The depth of the hymns, the tradition of the music and the simple fact that so many of the hymns tell the story of redemption in the completion of the verses just makes my heart want to burst in praise for God. In love. To me they are SO good. But I know many people who are feelers, and like contemporary rock. Singing “I love you” repeatedly to a sustained chord of an electric guitar ushers them into the presence of the Spirit, without the theological depths that get my spirit engaged. So the Biblical response for me, when I think about loving my neighbor must be: Let’s sing the songs and the style that my neighbor enjoys because I want him to meet with and commune with God today.
We must also remember that music is not worship. Pouring out our heart before God in the form of song, when done to His glory is worship. But so is helping others to pour out praise from their hearts. So is preaching and listening to the teaching of the Word. So is serving lunch at the luncheon in love. So is training your children to love and know God. So is reading your Bible and communing with Him on your own. So is eating, drinking, working and playing unto God, in the name of Christ . Worship should be our lifestyle, and if we delegate a season of ten to twelve minutes on Sunday morning in church before the sermon as our time for worship, we have stunted our Spiritual ability and are incapable of worshiping in that moment. We are then choosing a church because they play the music we like and we are enjoying our definition of good music. It makes us feel food. It is about me. And in reality I am worshiping myself.
This is not an issue of right and wrong. One form of music is not morally or spiritually better than another – as long as it is Biblically sound. It must be in accord with Scripture.
The Spirit in me is not going to disagree with the Spirit in you. If I can put my desires aside and love God and love you, the Spirit will unite us in Truth. Because He is Truth. Are drums of the devil? I would challenge traditionalists to consider the history of the symphony and the variety of instruments utilized to play the masses and hallmarks of our faith – like the tympani! Is repetition brainless? Please read Psalm 118. Are the hymns and traditional southern gospel closest to God’s heart? Please tell me one person in today’s culture who can sing, without giggling, “Nobody can do me like Jesus”.
I do believe that God desires and deserves our best, even when it comes to music. He did, after all, create music. All of His instructions for the tabernacle and temple were to do be done skillfully. But that is another topic for another place. Here.
Let’s die to ourselves. Let’s love one another. Let’s consider our brothers and sisters and the music that engages their hearts and facilitates an expression of their hearts to God in worship. Do you have a music leader at your church? Trust his leadership to have a finger on the heartbeat of the church, and praise God. In spirit and in truth. In love. In music. In honoring one another. And in so glorifying God.