Sunday, September 5, 2010
The Glory of God or the Magnifying of Me?
While it should be, I'm sure all of us have areas in our lives where we let God's glory take second place to our wishes and desires. Recently, I've been convicted of this egotism in a very touchy area: church music.
What purposes does music in the church serve? That's not a rhetorical question; I'd welcome your comments. The two that come most readily to my mind are the praise of God (Psalm 33:2-3) and the edification of others (Ephesians 5:19).
I cannot think of a single passage in Scripture where it instructs us to sing praise to God to please ourselves. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not saying music cannot or should not be enjoyed. I'm a music major, so of course I love music! Corporate worship is not the only context for music given in Scripture by any means.
I'm just suggesting that, at least in the corporate worship setting, music always has an audience. The audience is God, other people, or, I think legitimately, both. We are instructed to "make melody to the Lord with all your heart" and to address "one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." (Ephesians 5:19)
Here comes the convicting part. When we quarrel, whine, or refuse to worship because of the style of a song, we are neither edifying our fellow believers nor praising God. If that is the case, then music in the church is pointless.
It must break God's heart to see the "worship wars" in our churches today. Honestly, whether we sing all hymns or all praise choruses or a mix, whether we use drums or an organ, we have missed the point if we are not edifying the rest of the body and praising God.
I think a lot of us honestly think we are getting the praising God point. I have heard people say, "Well, I can't praise God with that song because I hate it." I have been guilty of that same sentiment myself. When we express it, we think we're getting the worship thing -- we want to be able to praise God more effectively, right?
Wrong. I don't think putting praising God in a box like that is possibly glorifying to Him. While I'm all for praising God in a style we connect to (hey -- I'm surrounded by budding ethnomusicologists!), I think leaving out the other ingredient to music in corporate worship is dangerous.
When we refuse to praise God because we hate the music, we are refusing to put others' interests ahead of our own. Remember the other audience Ephesians gives? The church. We are to address each other with songs. Maybe the style that I hate is presenting a song someone else in the body needs to hear that morning. Maybe by choosing to put their interests first and praise God along with them, I can in turn be made more Christ-like.
I can guarantee you that He will not be glorified by our bickering, by our arrogance in promoting our style first, or by our childish attitudes. He commands us to be unified, to show love to each other. I think those commands include music.
With love from an absolute doll,