Is Worship Music a Gift or Has it Become our God?

Has the Sunday morning “Worship time” become our God?  Bob Kauflin recently discussed this topic on his blog called Worship Matters. It resonated with me and I thought those who read this blog would benefit from Bob’s observations. So…… I have included them here! Be challenged!

“Music is a very good gift. The 13,000 songs on my iTunes are testimony to that. My eyes have often welled up in tears as I’ve been affected by a lyric, a chord progression, or a musical texture. I’ve thanked God for the gift of music more times than I can remember.

Whenever I think about my love for music, I’m reminded of what Martin Luther said in a Foreword to a 1538 collection of chorale motets:

I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God… A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.”

While we may not want to emulate Luther’s attitude, most of us will readily agree that music is a gift from God…

And that’s the problem. Scripture tells us that gifts can often become gods. Good things can become idols.

In Numbers 21, the Israelites grumbled against God and it resulted in him sending poisonous serpents. When they confessed their sin and repented, God had Moses cast a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. Anyone who looked at the serpent would live. It was a good gift. But later on in 2Kings 18 we read that Israel had been making offerings to the serpent, and even gave it a name – Nehushtan.

Good gifts can become gods.

Music turns from a gift to a god when we look to it for the joy, comfort, power & satisfaction only God can give. Here are 5 indicators that might be happening.

1. We choose to attend a church or a meeting based on the music rather than the preaching of the gospel and God’s word.

Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the church is to gather around music. We gather around the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We gather to hear God’s Word in the Spirit’s power. Eph. 2:13-14 says the blood of Christ unites us, not music.

2. We can’t worship in song apart from a particular song, style, leader, or sound.

Anytime I say, I can’t worship unless X happens, or X is present, unless X is the death of our Savior on the cross for our sins or the power of his Spirit, we are engaging in idolatry. At that moment, X is more important to us than God’s command to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. That doesn’t mean that there are no bad songs, lousy leaders, or inappropriate styles. But being discerning is different from being unable to worship God at all.

3. We think music leads us into or brings God’s presence.

Here’s what music can do. It can affect us emotionally. Create a mood. Soften our hearts so that we listen more intently. Help us hear words differently. Distract us from what’s going on. Help us focus on what’s going on. Help us remember words. And more.

Here’s what music can’t do. Make God more present. Bring God’s presence down. Bring us into God’s presence. Manipulate God. (Heb. 10:19-22; 1 Tim. 2:5). There is only one mediator, and it’s not a song, style, leader, or sound. It’s Jesus Christ.

4. Poor musical performance leads us to sin against other band members or the musicians leading us.

We’re hardly representing God’s heart when we get angry, frustrated, or impatient with musicians who don’t play up to our standards. God’s standards are perfection, and they’ve been met in Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life in our place and died as our substitute, enduring the wrath of God in our place. ALL our offerings, no matter how well or poorly offered, are perfected through the once and for all offering of the Savior. We can strive for excellence to serve others, while extending to others the same grace we’ve received.

5. A love for music has replaced a love for the things of God.

It’s possible to listen to music that’s destroying your soul and be completely dull to it. To become enslaved by an idol and you feel like you’re breaking free. In his confessions, Augustine said “For he loves thee too little who loves along with thee anything else that he does not love for thy sake.” I have no doubt we love music. But do we love music for God’s sake or for ours?

To sum up:
Music is useful, but not necessary.
Music is good. But Jesus is better.
Music is a gift, but not a god.
Music isn’t my life. Christ is.

The gifts of God are meant to deepen our relationship with God and create fresh affection for him. Not replace him.

May we enjoy and make music to the fullest of our abilities, all for the glory of the one who gave it to us to enjoy in the first place.”

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on December 29, 2010, in The Cross, Worship and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. In our search for good, it seems we are quite prone to take any good thing and turn it into an idol, forgetting that it is not the Good. It certainly happens with music, but it also seems to happen with other things such as grace, love, sermons, etc.
    Thanks for your comments!

    Like

  2. Your comments as always, are right on target.
    More and more people are disgruntled with the church they may have attended for years, and if you ask a reason, its often because the place around the road does ‘music’ or ‘worship’ better, or the music team is great, or because, ‘they have a worship team!’

    As you mentioned there is a danger that music can become our god, and I believe it is one way that Satan has unwittingly pulled the wool over eyes and made an entry. Not in the music itself, but in the people’s attitudes to that music, their attitudes to the people in the team, their attitude to the minister, etc.

    There are some amazing songwriters entering into the christian scene, and there is no doubt that God is using these talented people to bring new ways of proclaiming adoration and praise to our God.

    It is when the talent is worshipped rather than Jesus, our Saviour, that is when the problem arises. It is so subtle its not till its really noticeable that it can be recognised as a problem or as an idol. Even then, those involved would be horrified at the very thought.

    Thanks once again for your comments and the challenge.

    Like

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