Music is a wonderfully created gift from God. He formed our ears and our ability to hear sound. He allowed our minds to have conscious thoughts, and gave us the ability to communicate with our voices. When we're speaking with each other, we know that our conversations mean something. When we sing with one another, we communicate an agreed upon truth in the beauty of His music notes. We're able to notice something special is happening in music. Glory to God!
God is glorified in His creation of music. The body of Christ has an excellent opportunity to bring glory to God, and to thank Him for who He is and what He has done for us. So how should the body approach worshiping God with His creation of music? Let's start briefly with what we shouldn't do and then go into what we definitely should do.
We obviously shouldn't show up and mindlessly start singing along by following the words on the screen, yet with our minds on work, lunch, the weather, football, or what time it is. If we're honest with ourselves, we've probably all done this to an extent. The thing is, we are gathered together with brothers and sisters to sing to and of the Creator. We're there to glorify Christ in His death and resurrection. We're called to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
It's good to be reminded of what not to do, but what do we do? Let's unpack meaningful ways of approaching worship with music.
Lyrics give the greatest meaning to worship music. When we see the words we're singing we need to know what they mean. Chances are, on Sunday morning, you've heard the worship songs being sung before, but if you haven't you can still truly think about what's being said in the lyrics.
The lyrics of a solid worship song are carefully chosen by the writer. They're put together to describe a truth about God in a very meaningful way. We can often even learn or be reminded of biblical truths in the lyrics. Thinking about every word you're singing truly leads you to proclaiming God's worthiness with sincerity.
Take "My Savior's Love (What Tongue Could Tell)" written by Keith Getty, Matt Papa, and Matt Boswell. The chorus is:
"My Savior's love
My Savior's love
What could compare
What tongue could tell my Savior's love"
This seems simple, and one could sing this and just keep it moving mentally, but why not really think about what this is saying?
First off, it references the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Then it asks us, "what could compare?" We realize that nothing in this world could even come close to comparing to Christ's love for us in His death and resurrection for our sins and eternal life. What earthly love from mere man could compare to our Savior's love? Exclaim it!
Then it moves into "what tongue could tell?" What tongue of man could truly tell of the magnitude of Christ's God's love? We surely couldn't do the explanation justice. Without the revealed Word of God in Scripture, we couldn't read about His love today, much less explain it without Him giving us His example of the cross.
So next time you sing that song, think about these things. Do it with every song. It's a blessing to the believer, and it glorifies God in who He is.
Let the knowledge of God, as He's glorified in lyrics and music, bring you to sincere emotion. We shouldn't seek and sing worship music to experience emotion just for the sake of emotion, but we should be brought to sincere emotion when we think about the God we're worshiping.
This doesn't mean to purposefully sing yourself into tears, although tears do come genuinely at times. Emotion can be singing with power the strong and solid theology in a sound worship song. Emotion can also be singing in a soft and sincere tone as you're convicted by the lyrics. It could be an excited emotion in a song declaring God's victory. Whatever the emotion, may it be sincere.
I can see this scene play out, and I just want to live in it. If it hasn't already, this is about to get deep. Singing together, though it sounds simple, is a powerful and meaningful way to unite the body. How amazing it is to know a group of believers is on the same page singing together, not just in words, but in understanding of what's being sung.
When your brother in Christ has had a hardship, and he expressed its toll on him in a small gathering, you remember that. When your sister in Christ reminds you of God's provision in our lives, we bring that with us. When the pastor preaches the gospel with genuine passion and reminds us of His mercy and grace, we hold on to that truth!
Then, there's worship music, and its usefulness is brought to a new level. The knowledge of what the body of Christ is experiencing weighs in. Knowing that your brother is thinking of the same thing when you're singing of God's greatness brings you together. Knowing your sister is focused on Christ's sacrifice for us as she sings brings you closer as a family. The music is played to God's glory as if the musicians aren't even noticed, and they're pleased with that. Everyone's focus is on Christ as the body sings together to His glory. No one is thinking of his own merit. All are there to worship God in spirit and truth.
That's how we approach singing music in worship.
The pastor has the responsibility to ensure the local church is singing music from sound sources with solid theology. When we gather as a family to worship our God, we need to be able to trust that the lyrics are biblical. Now, we also have the responsibility to do our own research and to help inform our pastors of songs that are concerning, or songs from artists whose ministries we shouldn't be promoting by using their music. For more information on how to respectfully reach out to your pastor, visit How to Ask Your Church to Change It's Worship Music.
When we come together as a church to worship our God, may we be intentional about it. May our focus be on Christ who redeemed us. May we glorify our God in spirit and truth.
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