I have always thought that one of the things I am most grateful for in this world, is music.
There is something about music that speaks to us on a level that nothing else can, and growing up in a music-loving family it has always been a big part of my life and dominated every family gathering no matter how big or small.
Sometimes, it’s hard to draw the line between the way we experience music in and out of the church and i found that for me, the lines were starting to blur a bit.
Worshipping God through music and song is an important and wonderful part of Sunday gatherings. Having grown up in a small Methodist church, i remember waiting in anticipation for the powerful sound of the organ to come blaring out of the brass pipes, a sign for the congregation to stand, hymn books in hand, ready to sing to our Creator.
To this day I truly adore hymns.
Often when i’m reading through scripture, a verse will remind me of a hymn we sang when I was younger, and i find such comfort in the truth and honesty of the words. I suddenly had a thought that if we fail to keep hymns in our Sunday services, our children wont grow up having that same experience. It would sadden me to think of my niece, one day, reading Psalm 42:1 and not at least humming the tune …
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
It has recently come to my attention that so much of modern music sung in our church gatherings today is theologically incorrect … but I think that’s a topic for a whole other blog post. For now I’ll just stick to the point that I had in mind for this post, which is the vast difference between going to a rock concert and going to church. I fear that lately we have come to expect the same experience from both.
The argument against the charismatic movement is that music is often used in church meetings in a way that seems to ‘hype-up’ the congregation or ‘manipulate’ them into a moment of silent reflection, leaving them chasing those moments of goose-pumps and shivers in order to feel like their worship was meaningful and they ‘met with God’. Once accustomed to these experiences, believers could go through times of despondency where they admit they haven’t ‘felt’ God and therefore feel distant from Him.
After giving it some thought, i must say that i agree, but since music can often be an emotional experience, I was wondering how to reconcile that to worship in a church gathering and as far as i can see, it’s all about focus. What the words are focused on, and what i am focused on.
Concerts and shows are all about me being entertained. Me getting goosebumps and me tearing up with joy when i hear my favourite song live. It’s me getting.
Praise and worship in a church gathering is completely different… it has nothing to do with me.
Everything i do in worship should be done in response to the God whom i am praising. It is an expression of a work which God has done in me. A truth which i believe, a truth which i am reminded of and a truth that i have perhaps taken for granted. We may respond in tears, with a raised hand or with a smile but we don’t respond to the music, but rather to the One for whom the music is playing and to whom we sing. That truth comes first, and the honest response follows, regardless of which instruments are playing or which lights are on. When we worship God, it’s us giving praise to a holy and worthy God.
Art is illustrative, it points toward something, it finds it’s place in truth. Truth does not find it’s place in art.
So, i am challenged to keep this in mind throughout this year as, i hope, are you 🙂