Speaking to yourselves in songs and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19 KJV
I love Christian music. I love the old praise and worship hymns and I also love the new praise and worship hymns. Isaac Watt and Chris Tomlin join hand in hand to lead us to King Jesus. Each generation finds its way to God.
Christian music, when it is centered in Christ, honors our Heavenly Father. It reminds us of His faithfulness and affirms His constant love for us. Powerful lyrics and beautiful arrangements help us to transcend our ordinary lives, offering us a temporary reprieve from the struggles of daily living. But therein hides a danger that I would like you to consider. Christian music must reverberate the true reality of Christ within, not attempt to produce it.
You see, while enjoying beautiful melodies, it is easy to become dependent on the strings of an instrument to maintain a “right spirit.” Like King Saul of old, whose “evil spirit” is comforted by David’s harp, we can fall into the trap of thinking we need Christian music to grow in grace. We can begin to view praise and worship music as a means of maintaining an upward swing in our walk with Christ. Enjoying verse and chorus, we come to believe we have found a source of freedom, but it is a temporary fix at best. As soon as we stop singing, we fall back into a spiritual funk and the dark clouds return. The caboose of worship has no power to pull the train of growth down the tracks.
Who hasn’t had the following experience? Tuning into our favorite Christian music station we drive down the road immersed in vehicular worship. Suddenly a rude or careless driver cuts us off, choking us with anger. Turning the music up does not touch the rage we feel within. In fact, we usually turn the music off so that we can maintain our bad temper. Like the turning of a switch, we go from the heights of glory to the depths of fury. Something more is required than the keys of a piano in order to walk in victory over sin. The source of our Christianity must be a steady gaze on Christ, not a dependence on lyric and melody. Worship music is a vital element of our Christian experience but using it as a source of growth is like applying a bandage to a cancerous tumor.
Even the church we attend can become a breeding ground for this false narrative. The flesh is at home in the “glory” brought on by a powerful performance on a church platform. The bull elephant of carnality plays a mean bass fiddle. What worship leader doesn’t know the old joke; “Where did Satan land when he fell out of Heaven?” Answer: “The choir loft.”
The songs we sing are meant to vibrate the strings of the life of Christ within us. Tune your life to Christ and music will flow freely from His reality within. As Edward Mote once wrote, “I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”