Music, Music, Music!
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord."1
One of the biggest areas of conflict in today's church is music. Older generation Christians tend to like the "good old hymns" while the younger generation lean more toward what Joy and I like to call "happy clappy" gospel songs. So whose music is the best for worship?
Allow me to answer in a roundabout way. A few years ago I had the opportunity to preach in the Sunday morning services at an Anglican (Episcopal) church in Perth, Western Australia. It was in the middle of winter and I was so cold that a doctor's wife loaned me her overcoat. So here I am sitting on the front pew dressed in a woman's overcoat waiting for the service to commence. The moment the congregation began to sing it hit me like a thunderbolt. "Wow," I said to myself, "surely the presence of the Lord is in this place!"
When I got up to preach, never in my life had I experienced such incredible liberty with such an overwhelming sense of God's presence.
Very interesting, too, that in that service was a professor from the University of Western Australia. This lady had recently emigrated from China where she grew up under Mao with the teaching that said there is no God. This was only the second time in her life she had ever been in a church. She told friends who were with me that when I was preaching, she saw me encircled by an aura of rainbow colored light. She also said she now knew that there was a God because she felt His presence so strongly in that service.
So what does this have to do with church music? Everything. It's not the form of music that matters but the attitude of the heart of those who are singing. When preaching, I can pretty much tell on the first line of the first song whether or not it will be easy or hard to preach in that service because one can easily sense whether God is in the music/singing or not. If God is not in the music/singing, you can be certain His Spirit is not in the rest of the service.
So the question is, is the music from the heart as Paul stated in today's Scripture? If not, it isn't worship—no matter how talented the singers may be. To put it another way, is our music a sweet smelling savor to God as an act of genuine worship, or is it nothing more than an obnoxious effluvium as were some of the sacrifices in the Old Testament era where the sacrifices were merely ritualistic and not from the heart?
Furthermore, sometimes I ask myself the question, “In today’s church are we taking the church to Las Vegas or are we taking Las Vegas to the church?”
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me at all times to sing and make melody in my heart to You … whether alone at home or in a church worship service. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Ephesians 5:19 (NIV).