Pastor Rick Warren said in a recent article posted on Pastors.com that: “There’s no such thing as Christian music. There are just Christian lyrics”, implying that any and all music is acceptable for worship as long as the lyrics were “Christian” – whatever that means. I would suggest to Pastor Warren that if ACDC were to provide the worship music at his church next Sunday morning, very few of his worshippers would be able to ascertain whether the lyrics were “Christian” or not due to the sheer decibel level created by the instrumentation alone. My question is: Under these conditions, what difference would the lyrics make?
In consideration of “music styles” deemed appropriate or not for Church and worship, many today believe that music, apart from its lyrical content, is amoral – that is to say, it can neither be good nor evil. These are generally the same folks who accept the humanist notion that there are no absolutes – that the world we live in is neither black nor white but only gray and relative. The fact is – music is a work, an effort, a deed, an action and a product of human initiative that can be just as moral or immoral as the one performing it. Today’s “progressives” from within the seeker-sensitive, purpose driven, church growth movement currently willow creeping their way into the mainstream of church life would have us reconsider what is good and bad for worship while suggesting that it is God’s will for you and me to experiment with new and exciting things simply because we’ve never tried them. Sounds like serpent logic to me. And by the way -- can somebody from the new paradigm please show me where the bible encourages experimentation in spiritual matters? Funny, I thought it was obedience God wanted.
Granted, the Lord gave no commandment saying “Thou shalt not play rock and roll at church on Sunday but He also didn’t say “Thou shalt not hold Sunday services in the middle of a busy intersection” either. Some things are just obvious.
Having come out of a lifetime of playing many popular styles of music professionally, I used to be of the same pragmatic mindset as those from the CGM. Frankly, such an attitude is quite common among musicians. Early in my Christian walk, I tried to incorporate my raucous and exotic tastes in music into my Christian life not realizing at that time that the two were largely incompatible – that, in reality, my “taste in music” had an adverse effect on my attitude and behavior as a Christian. Unfortunately, I was much too selfish and immature to accept that. See Music and Morality
Music is a lot like alcohol and drugs. It can be very deceiving and destructive when misused and can distort one’s emotions, reasoning, judgment, perspective and behavior. Peer pressure only makes it worse. Music, with or without lyrics, can be a very powerful force in our lives. That is why instrumentals alone can bring a tear to an eye or screams from a crowd before a single word is ever sung. Likewise, other emotions can easily be stirred by lyric-free melodies and rhythms resulting in joy, happiness, excitement, anger, bitterness, depression and rage. To say that music without lyrics is amoral is like saying music without lyrics is dispassionate. It’s absurd.
As Kimberly Smith wrote in her book: “Let Those Who Have Ears To Hear”, music has a message all its own, regardless of the lyric. If you doubt that, watch what people do in a crowd where loud music and a strong beat are played. Under its power and influence they will move their arms, legs, feet, hands, hips, heads, necks, fingers and even their faces in ways they NEVER would in a quiet room or church sanctuary full of people. Then watch what they do when soft and gentle music is played. They become just as soft and gentle as the music. It's not the words that compel our bodies to respond. It is the music. Why? Because, AGAIN, music has a message all its own – a compelling message that may or may not be consistent with the words being sung.
Combining kind, loving and evangelical messages to loud, aggressive, angry or suggestive music only confuses the listener into justifying and accepting whatever feelings, emotions, thoughts and attitudes may arise. To wrap sensual or in-your-face music with grace-filled lyrics and loving messages merely cloaks the danger in deceit and disarms an otherwise discerning listener into accepting the unacceptable – often resulting in confusion, dissipation, disappointment and defeat. It’s like saying it’s OK to drink lots of alcohol as long as it’s mixed with fruit juice. The truth is, the intoxicating effects of the alcohol will always overwhelm and negate whatever health benefits the juice offers.
The volume music is played is another area where boundaries and limitations should be set to facilitate worship. Exceeding those limits can be not only counterproductive but also quite dangerous. I learned long ago that the louder and more aggressive the music was in my car, the faster, more aggressive and more reckless I drove. It’s no different at work, at home, at school or at church. If the wrong music is played in worship OR even if the right music is played the wrong way, all positive effects can and will be lost. Even a good song can be played so loud in a room full of people that they’re forced to cover their ears and run for the exits, triggering a condition known as “Fight or Flight Syndrome”. Just as everyone has their own taste in music, everyone has their own threshold of tolerance when it comes to volume. Respecting boundaries and the selfless consideration of others are essential in pleasing God, not only in everyday life but also in Sunday worship. That’s why biblical principals of moderation and humility are always appropriate.
Did you know that loud music is so unhealthy that over time, it can wreck your immune system and permanently damage your adrenal gland performance so as to cause a litany of physical and emotional problems later in life from depression to fatigue to allergies, to high blood pressure, to joint pain, to muscle weakness, to constipation and much more – BESIDES rendering you deaf? This being the case, would you consider Christian rock being performed at church on Sunday in excess of 110dB to be good or evil? Kind of makes the Christian lyric issue irrelevant, doesn’t it? Do a Google search on Fight or Flight Syndrome and then get back to me on what’s Christian music and what’s not.
Though there are many ways to judge what music is suitable for worship, after much study, reflection and prayer, I’ve come to the conclusion that one’s music, like one’s character is best defined by attitude. Does our worship music convey the fruit of the spirit as outlined in scripture or does it encourage and celebrate our sinful nature and the impulses of the flesh?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” - Galatians 5:22-23
Do we seek to worship the Ancient of Days with our music or do we attempt to stimulate, gratify and entertain ourselves using whatever draws the largest crowd and the loudest applause? Does our music exalt a God not given to celebrity, fashion, appetite or whim or does it serve to advance something or someone else? Does our song compliment a suffering servant and a crucified Christ or a compromised culture of lasciviousness and vanity? Is our offering to God or is it to men? Is our song any different from the world’s song or, except for the lyrics, is it pretty much the same? Because, if our lifestyle is like our music style, no different from that of the world, what difference are “Christian” words going to make?
Many of today’s CGM and CCM personalities will try and persuade you that what the psalmist meant by this verse was that we should do away with old songs, old styles, old ways, old instruments, old musicians and old singers and play only the latest and loudest in contemporary Christian music, be it rock, hip hop, grunge, metal, jazz, R&B, or whatever FEELS GOOD, till the crowd roars and the heavens shake.
Or was he instead encouraging us to sing unashamedly of our new life in Christ – a Spirit-filled walk of repentance, faith, humility and sacrifice that crucifies the flesh daily in obedience, discipline, dedication, perseverance, gratitude and praise?
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” - Titus 2:13-14
What is worship? As I understand it, worship is coming before the Lord as a holy and “peculiar people”, in obedience, humility, reverence, repentance and faith with an attitude of gratitude, to sing His praises, hear His Word, glorify His name and honor Him with all of our being for Who He is and what He has done.
IPS Note: Biblically, to worship God is to "work" for or "serve" Him with an attitude of deference, humility and reverence. A mental prostration, if you will. This cannot be limited to a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. See The Christian and Worship
Contrary to popular trends, worship is NOT getting together with anybody and everybody to party in Jesus' name and feel good about ourselves with intoxicating music and psychotherapy.
Clearly, the Lord does not want His own to look, act and sound like every other sinner in the street. He wants us to be different, distinctive, sanctified and holy so that everyone will know that we belong to Him and not the world. But, if we are indistinguishable from the world, we are worse than useless; we are an insult and an embarrassment and demonstrate that we are not His at all.
Why then, under the pretext of pragmatism, have we dedicated ourselves to making the church look, act and sound exactly like the unchanged, unrepentant and unregenerate world around us – essentially filling our fortresses with the enemy to make them FEEL like allies? How does that glorify God and forward the gospel of repentance and faith In Christ? Isn’t proclaiming our transformation and redemption from a lost and dying state into a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17) what the psalmist meant by “Sing unto Him a new song... “ – to show the world that we are now a “peculiar people”, set apart for Him and Him only?
So, who’s learning whose song here? Who's proselytizing whom?
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” – 1st Peter 2:9
Is it that we are now afraid to be “peculiar” – ashamed of who we are and to whom we belong? Are we more comfortable as a harlot than a bride? If so, do we not deny Him in our disobedience?
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 10:33
It’s not enough to just SAY that we are His and TELL the world that we are different. It must be evident in ALL that we think, say and do; otherwise, we are liars, hypocrites and mockers of God – hearers of the Word and not doers.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." - Matthew 7:21
In a recent Pastors.com article, Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, was quoted as saying: “I believe that one of the major church issues [of the future] will be how we’re going to reach the next generation with our music.” See Critique of The Purpose Driven Life
Did he say "reach" them with "OUR MUSIC"? That’s what record companies and rock stars do! Is that what Jesus sent US to do? Is that what transforms sinners from the old life into the new – "OUR MUSIC"? Did Jesus carry a band around with Him to help draw a crowd so He could “reach” His generation with a song? If it’s music that brings us to repentance and faith why didn’t Jesus round up 12 top-notch musicians to be His apostles and just sing to us? Why spend so much time lecturing everyone about the will of God? Is it because they didn't have amplifiers and electricity back then to make them “feel it”?
Haven't you heard? Haven't you seen the surveys? Lectures are boring and make people restless and uncomfortable. So, did Jesus have it all wrong? According to the new paradigm, He did. Today, instead of lectures we have lots of small group discussions about our feelings and opinions at church to help facilitate interaction and build better "relationships" with one another.
You see the implication here is that we need more therapy – not theology. That's what Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, George Barna, C. Peter Wagner and every other leader from the church growth movement would have you believe. But what do human feelings and opinions have to do with proclaiming the Word of God? What's more important – that we come to a consensus and bond with each other emotionally (Hegelian Dialectic) or obey God's Word even if no one else around us will?
Do you see what they're instructing the church to do here? Do you recognize the paradigm shift? Don't proclaim the Word of God. (Lecture/preach/teach, etc.) Let's “focus group” our FEELINGS and OPINIONS instead. And ALWAYS have lots of sensual music around to help facilitate the transition from the didactic to the dialectic. You see my friends; behind it all is an emphasis on MUSIC – not the Word of God. So, now you tell me; has the message changed?
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17
Music, regardless of “style”, volume, tempo or instrumentation, simply cannot accomplish what proclaiming the Word of God can. It might draw and hold a larger crowd than a lecture, bring everyone to their feet in resounding applause and help us all FEEL better about ourselves, but if a sinner, bound for Hell, doesn’t care about the Word of God, there’s not a song in the world that can save him. He might scream "JESUS ROCKS!!!" at the top of his lungs during the band's closing number, but I doubt seriously he’ll take up his cross and follow Christ when the music stops and the hard times come – which brings me to the controversial question: What are these passion-filled, music-induced moments at seeker-services all about – teaching obedience to the Word of God or manipulating the emotions and behavior of the masses into communal cooperation?
Addressing an audience at Liberty University, Warren told the young people there just what they wanted to hear: “Get rid of the organ” and “speed up the tempo of the music“, adding, “The message doesn’t change, but the methods do”.
He told the crowd: “You can make more people mad with music than anything else in church”. OK – so, is THAT your “vision”, Pastor – make the old folks mad at church until they all leave so we can have a good time? Isn’t that why rebellious teenagers love it when their parents go out of town -- so they can turn the music up, turn the house upside down and have all their friends over to “party hearty”? Does anybody see the similarities here? What are we encouraging and accommodating at church with this kind of attitude; Christ-likeness?
In many re-invented churches across the country, this is EXACTLY what is happening. In a strange and sad irony, the “salt of the earth” is being trampled on and shoveled out the door because of their “traditions”. Is that how we honor our father and mother and all the elders of our generation – those whose years of service, dedication and spiritual investment built the very houses of worship now being renovated into party palaces of “Purpose and Passion”? Sounds like an organized rebellion to me.
Liberals always point to the Pharisees of Jesus’ time when they want to attack “tradition” and redefine it as evil. Why? - Because it serves an alternative agenda – a humanist plan for perpetual change, designed to curse the past and herald the future. Furthermore, they're using the rebellion of youth to accomplish it for them. Why do you think we always hear the liberal cliché, "The children are our future"? It is because they want the inmates to run the asylum so the dialectic can take over to bring about social change in the church through compromise. Compromise what? – God’s unchanging Word.
But Jesus wasn’t condemning “tradition” per se. He was condemning “perversion” – the Pharisee’s perversion of truth – the truth of God’s Word. Perverting God’s Word had been going on for so long that it BECAME THE TRADITION of the time. That in no way invalidates all things traditional. But unfortunately in the postmodern church, tradition, pardon the pun, is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Beyond the moral and spiritual aspects of loud and fast music, there are health issues to be considered as well. When the human body experiences pain, it releases its own natural painkillers into the bloodstream called “endorphins”. As we all know, one of the side effects of painkillers is the high they produce.
Loud, sustained, pulsating and repetitive noise damages, not just the eardrum, but also the entire human body – especially frequencies below 100Hz and levels above 110dB. The more intense and unidirectional the sound waves are, the more cell damage we incur and the more painkilling substances our bodies release to anesthetize the pain. This is one of the reasons loud music is so appealing to young people at concerts; because they don’t just hear it – they FEEL IT and guess what -- it makes them high, which begs the question; are those attending “seeker” services with its loud music and revelry being nourished spiritually by their presence and participation or are they getting beaten up sonically to catch a buzz for Jesus? Would you call that a spirit-filled or endorphin-filled experience? I’d call it a drug-related incident.
Another substance that is released into the body when one is exposed to stress caused by loud noise is “adrenaline”. Ever hear the term “adrenaline junkie”? Among other things, loud music, like other stressful events and activities produces what is commonly referred to as an “adrenaline rush.” Adrenaline helps our bodies deal with the stress and trauma created by extremely loud and low sound waves that can brutalize concertgoers. Like endorphins, they too are a natural defense mechanism. If we repeatedly subject ourselves to noise levels that force our adrenal glands into overdrive and keep us pumped with adrenaline just to handle the aural and physical shock of a rock concert, we can not only become addicted to it, but also experience many of the adverse physical and emotional effects of withdrawal BETWEEN CONCERTS (seeker services) when we DON’T get the adrenaline we’ve been conditioned to crave – potentially making our daily lives AWAY from loud music, Hell on earth. That’s why we feel achy, fatigued, agitated and sometimes depressed the day after enduring a clamorous event. The adrenaline declines right along with the noise level leaving us in a less than desirable state.
Speaking at a “Building A Purpose Driven Church” seminar, Warren had this to say: “Loud, raucous music with a driving beat is the kind of music his folks listened to.” He said, “We are really, really loud on a weekend service ….I say, 'we're not gonna turn it down’. Now the reason why is baby boomers want to feel the music, not just hear it…”
But, you know, as sad and revealing as these remarks are – nothing prepared me for the following statement from Pastor Warren:
Do you see what he’s doing here? Showing anything BUT “tolerance, diversity and unity”, (the driving doctrine of seekerism), Warren does what liberals ALWAYS do to traditionalists; he pulls the race card to try and not just elevate himself and his cause under a guise of humility and compassion but also shame his “stuck in the past” critics into silence with politically correct hyperbole and innuendo.
So, HEAD'S UP all you elderly and traditional Christians out there because taking exception to music at church that is spiritually, emotionally and physically unhealthy, now makes you a racist.
Even if the "style" of music and the way it is presented in church and in worship didn’t matter to God and, just for the sake of argument, we agreed with Rick Warren’s erroneous statement, "There's no such thing as Christian music. There are just Christian lyrics", (which we obviously do not) we must realize that what is said lyrically in much of today's Christian contemporary and praise music is not all that biblical but is, by and large, purely emotional and therefore potentially misleading to those that embrace it.
With respect to discernment, (a spiritual quality many Christians seem to lack these days), it is vitally important that worshipers not only pay attention to what is NOT SAID in sermons being preached but also what is NOT SAID in songs being sung. Just as the purpose driven, seeker sensitive message lacks certain scriptural condemnations, declarations, requirements and directives that are inherently offensive to the lost, the new music that accompanies it, lacks most of these attributes as well.
It may surprise some that many of today's contemporary Christian songs and popular praise choruses are quite suitable for use by almost any of the world's religions. Like the church growth movement, the lyrical content is, more often than not, emotionally strong, theologically weak and largely ambiguous. Because such music verbalizes little more than fleeting emotions, vivid imaginings, poetic interpretations and felt-need affections toward a universal or generic "God", leaving out any potentially offensive doctrinal specifics – especially scriptural negatives like sin, repentance, shed blood, crucified, cross, etc., virtually any god or religion could be accommodated, worshipped and served by their use. This is not to say that all traditional hymns are scripturally accurate and edifying or that all contemporary music and praise songs are not. But the church and those in music ministry should note the clear and contrasting tendency of each.
In the following excerpt taken from an article published by the Pensacola Christian College, entitled: Why Sing Hymns? some very valid points were made:
"The trend today is to replace traditional hymns with contemporary praise choruses. This is not a good trend, especially for youth and new believers who need a strong doctrinal focus. Hymns present clear expressions of the knowledge of God and biblical truth. Col. 3:16 admonishes 'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.'
Most contemporary praise choruses lack this emphasis. For example, a Muslim can sing many contemporary praise choruses and never utter a contradiction of his faith because praise choruses tend to focus on our affections for God rather than doctrinal truth. In contrast, a Muslim cannot sing a Christian hymn without professing doctrine that contradicts Islamic faith. Contemporary praise choruses often omit the identity of the God to whom it is sung, and they are so vague they could be sung to any false god. Even gospel choruses do not take the place of hymns rich in doctrine.
To discard hymns is not only unwise but also dangerous, for the identification and character of our Christian faith depends upon doctrinal distinctions. By singing hymns that are permeated with doctrinal truth, we help protect younger generations against the indictment: 'there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land' - Hosea 4:1.’”
It is interesting to note that in a July, 2002 article written by Rick Warren, entitled: Selecting Worship Music, he addressed the divisiveness created by trying to incorporate differing styles of music into worship – something most churches are not prepared to accept – not yet anyway. They might, though, after reading what Pastor Warren had to say on the subject – considering his rapidly growing celebrity and influence over the 21st century church.
"In the first years of Saddleback I made the mistake of underestimating the power of music. Because we didn't have a lot of talented musicians we minimized the use of music in our services. I regret that now…The other mistake I made at the beginning of Saddleback was trying to appeal to everybody's taste.
We covered the gamut, from 'Bach to Rock.' often in a single service! We'd alternate between traditional hymns, praise choruses, and contemporary Christian songs. We wanted to make everyone happy so we used classical, country, jazz, rock, reggae, easy listening, and even rap. The crowd never knew what was coming next.
Do you know who we pleased? Nobody!
Do you know who we frustrated? Everybody!
It was like a radio station trying to appeal to everyone by playing every type of music. It doesn't work!
It's impossible to appeal to everyone's musical preference and taste. You can’t make everyone happy. Music is a divisive issue. Music styles separate generations, regions of the country, personality types, and even family members! So we shouldn’t be surprised when opinions differ in the church.
You must decide who you're trying to reach, identify their preferred style of music and then stick with it. Define your target, bite the bullet, and go for it. You're wasting your time if you're searching for a style of music that everyone in your church will agree on."
Do you realize the subtle implication here? By stating that we SHOULD NOT mix music styles in worship, (which most churches now do thanks in large part to the practices of men like Rick Warren and Bill Hybels) he is now suggesting that we choose only one style of music and stay with it. Funny – I wonder if he believed that back when the church sang only hymns?
Bear in mind, now, he didn't come right out and say, "get rid of the hymns" – at least not in the above article. He didn’t really have to. That would have turned too many against him. For some time now, churches have, however, been in a slow yet steady transition from the traditional to the "progressive", using both hymns and praise music for the sake of mass appeal. Knowing this, he only had to advise them to choose between the two and, in doing so, would cleverly relieve them of those pesky old hymns that edify the saints and give glory to God – all without ever having to actually say, "Get rid of the hymns." If you didn’t already know – that's called manipulation.
If you lure children to the dinner table with sweets – then tell them they have to choose between eating the candy or the creamed spinach– that they can't have both; what do you think they're going to choose? You certainly won't have to tell them to choose the candy; you only have to tell them to choose. Their sweet tooth will take care of the rest. Once they've eaten all the candy they can hold – does that mean they've had their dinner? At a seeker-sensitive, purpose driven church it does. You don't have to tell the lost to stay away from traditional hymns and King James Bibles – you only have to offer sugary-sweet alternatives. Then later, tell them they have to choose. They won’t just love the alternatives and recommend them to others; they'll proudly proclaim their abject hatred for anything else. Why? Because they were trained to…
So, now that the church is hooked on sweets, he's telling us we can’t have both – that we need to choose. Do you really think that churches will want to give up the candy of contemporary music now? Of course not! And the obvious choice will be to forfeit the scripturally nutritious meal that hymns offer in order to preserve the peace. You see, Warren ingeniously changed the controversial question from: "Shouldn't we add contemporary music to reach the unchurched?" to "Shouldn't we use ONLY contemporary music to keep the unity?"
It's just one more example of the dialectic being used to steer the church toward a one world religion through the manipulative process of gradualism – from questioning biblical authority and tradition – to practicing compromise – to total and complete capitulation.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." – Romans 12:2
Would somebody please tell me why we applaud singers at church? We don’t applaud people when they pray. We don’t applaud the preacher when he preaches or the teacher when he teaches or the ushers when they pass around the plate. Does anyone applaud the greeters or the nursery workers for their performance each week? How about the folks that mow the grass on Saturday or clean the restrooms on Monday; does anybody clap for them? I’ll bet your church secretary has never received a round of applause – unless she’s in the choir, of course.
No, the reality is, we applaud singers almost exclusively. Why? Because that’s what our entertainment-oriented world has taught us to do. Like many other things these days; as the world does, so does the church. We instinctively applaud people that amuse us in some way or another in a live group setting. Sometimes we applaud for no other reason than, everyone else is applauding and we don’t want to appear different and look as if we disapprove or weren’t paying attention. It is a carnal response we offer and a clear reward intended for those who move us emotionally with a song, pure and simple – something for the eyes to see and the ears to hear, requiring, by the way, absolutely no faith in Christ.
I am reminded of the three instances in scripture where Jesus spoke disparagingly of “hypocrites” who performed for the eyes of others through their giving, their praying and their fasting in Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:16 – ending all three with the same solemn pronouncement, “They have their reward.”
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” – Romans 12:1
If carrying out the Lord’s will each day, including Sunday, is merely our “reasonable service”, why then should any of His redeemed be applauded for it – especially in a worship service where all glory, honor and praise belong to God?
If the songs we applaud during worship are not entertainment and we’re not really rewarding singers for services rendered, why then do we only applaud performers after they finish a song? If it isn’t their performance we’re applauding, why don’t we applaud when we see them before church in the foyer, in the hallway or on their way to the microphone? Why don’t we applaud them for just being a member of the choir or for simply showing up on Sunday?
Do we applaud singers at church because they had to prepare diligently beforehand? Well, didn’t the preacher and the teacher both put in at least as much time in their preparation of a sermon and lesson as that singer did for his or her song? What about the poor ushers? Where’s their reward? They have to go up and down the aisles for money like beggars! I’m sure they could use some applause.
I know what some of you are thinking: “We’re applauding the Lord, not the singers!” Oh, is that right? Well, if it’s the Lord you’re applauding; why don’t you applaud Him when the preacher brings a stirring message directly from the Word of God and tells you that the sins of all those who have repented and put their faith in Christ are forgiven – that they have been forever set free from an eternity in Hell? If there was ever a time to applaud God, wouldn’t that be it – or are you waiting for a song?
Why don’t we applaud the Lord when the teacher shows us in the scriptures where Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day or when Saul becomes Paul after the Lord strikes him blind on the road to Damascus and he stops persecuting the church to follow Christ and spread the good news that Jesus lives?
Why don’t we applaud the Lord when we sit down over a hot meal at dinnertime? Did you applaud the Lord when He gave you your first child or when you got a raise at work? How about that new house or car? Did you applaud the Lord for either of those? Fact is – you didn’t even applaud the salesman for giving you a good deal, now did you? How about when you didn’t get the flu this year or that lab work that came back negative? Was there any clapping around the house over that? Why don’t we applaud the Lord when we get up in the morning – if for no other reason, just because He gave us another day?
Maybe if He sang to us we would.
Why don’t we applaud hymns like we do praise songs and all those sensually gratifying contemporary Christian tunes we throw our money at in the record stores? Maybe those hymns are a little more honest about our condition than praise tunes are – maybe a little too honest.
Maybe we applaud praise choruses because so many of us are still in bondage to our sin and those little simplistic chants we can’t seem to live without help put a smile on our face and anesthetize the pain of our own stubborn disobedience and rebellion toward God – soothing and distracting our unrepentant hearts by allowing us two or three glorious minutes of relief to forget our troubles with a mesmerizing melody so we can pretend there really isn’t anything wrong with our spiritual lives – you know, kind of like when we go to a concert or a show or just turn the radio up real loud in the car on the way to the mall to drown out that “still small voice” so we’ll momentarily feel better about ourselves. Would it be accurate to say they might just be an escape for many of us?
Oh we LOVE those praise choruses, don’t we? It’s like we can’t worship without them. Aren’t praise songs essentially musical prayers? Didn’t Jesus specifically command us in Matthew 6:7 to not use "vain repetitions" when we pray? And isn’t that precisely what many praise choruses are; vain repetitions?
“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” – Matthew 6:7
One dear lady, whom I think the world of, wrote me the other day about her fondness for choruses, noting, that in singing them, “you really don’t have to think real hard…”
I couldn’t agree more.
So, not only do we offer “vain repetitions” to God in worship these days, we applaud and exalt those that excel in it. Shall we gather to praise, honor and glorify men or worship the Lord? Just who is it we’re really applauding at church? I certainly can’t answer that question for you but I do know that God sees the heart.
Could it be, in casually celebrating His marvelous love for us with “vain repetitions” and resounding applause, we’ve forgotten all about His holiness and jealousy in order to unduly reward ourselves in His presence?
Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24, Deuteronomy 5:9, Deuteronomy 6:15, Deuteronomy 32:16, Deuteronomy 32:21, Joshua 24:19, Ezekiel 39:25, Nahum 1:2, 2 Corinthians 11:2
© 2004 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved.