This week at Wednesday Night Worship we looked at another question: "Why are some churches against contemporary music?". Music has long been an area of disagreement within church life, which is very sad to me. Honestly the fact that there is ever any type of disagreement within the church is very sad, and like we talked about last week is a result of spiritual immaturity. We began the night by watching a classic video of the song "Jesus is My Friend". Our worship set included: "Take It All" (Hillsong United), "Marvelous Light" (Charlie Hall), "Jesus Paid It All" (Kristian Stanfill), "If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile".
We began the message by looking at what is the reason that some churches or people in general are against contemporary Christian music. I had asked my good friend Seth a little background on this question as he attended a popular fundamentalist university for one semester and was well educated on these thoughts. He actually ended up being in the audience last night and was able to give some additional insight and has a well written blog post on this subject here. Some of the things we discussed were that it is taught by some that some modern worship songs are repetitive and they believe that Jesus warns against that in Matthew 6:7. The truth is that Jesus is referring to meaningless repetitive prayers that the Gentiles would do. He is clearly not referring to singing songs. In fact we read in Revelation 4:8 that the angels sing songs of praise to God that are repetitive and they never cease. Another thing they teach is in relation to drum beats. I had our drummer explain this to the group since I have little musical knowledge but in a nutshell since most songs are simply written in 4/4 time (meaning 4 beats a measure), and there are 4 chambers in the heart, they believe that a drum beat gets the heart out of rhythm, and does other things to your brain. The funny thing though is that some people who believe this way are ok with listening to secular music which contains drum beats. While these are the extreme reasons that some are against contemporary music, many believe this way simply because it is tradition and is what they are taught. We always have to be careful to know what the Bible says about anything and not be content with believing something because we are told.
So what does the Bible say in relation to music, worship, and instruments? Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:18 Paul says to sing songs and worship God in the form of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. He speaks of three different types of songs here. A psalm is a song sung to the accompaniment of instruments that exalts God. The book of Psalms is a collection of psalms (there's your no-duh statement of the day). Hymns are other songs of praise that are different than psalms in the fact that they exalt Jesus Christ. The definition of a hymn is not a song sung out of a red book, there are modern day hymns as well. Spiritual songs are other songs of praise and testimony that express the truth of salvation in Jesus Christ. The point that Paul is making here is that you should sing songs together in worship that come from the overflow of your heart that takes place from your private worship.
There are many verses in the Old Testament that talk about singing songs of praise to God along with playing instruments: 1 Chronicles 15:16, 16:42, 23:5; 2 Chronicles 7:6, 23:13, 29:26-27, 30:21, 34:12; Nehemiah 12:36; Psalm 4, 6, 54, 61, 67, 76; Isaiah 38:20; Amos 6:5; Habakkuk 3:19. Sometimes it even mentions playing the instruments loudly! The fact that the New Testament never condemns this indicates that it was probably practice in the early church. Because of this the church today should feel freedom to use instruments if they feel led.
The topic should never be debated on whether a certain style of songs are appropriate or not, but it should be questioned on what the lyrics of a song say. Do the lyrics glorify God? Are the lyrics biblically sound? To be honest, some older hymns have terrible lyrics. The same can be said though of some contemporary lyrics. You can never overlook the lyrics in a song. This is why it is so important to know exactly what the song is saying and what it is talking about. I am definitely not the type of person that says you should not listen to any secular music, but I do believe that some secular music has had a negative impact on Christians. I believe that because of what some songs may talk about that it has impacted Christians and church members to be desensitized to sin.
I ended the night by challenging the students to not argue about this subject. Again, arguing and complaining about such is a sign of spiritual immaturity. I challenged them to know what a song says, know the words, and mean the words that you sing. I also challenged the students to be careful and not let their relationship with God to only be based on listening to Christian music. I know that when I was their age I listened to Christian music a lot, but I rarely read my Bible. I feel that this is something that many people do today.
On a side note, here are a few more of my own personal opinions about this topic that I did not include in my message. While I do not oppose older songs as long as their lyrics are theologically sound, I do not like singing or playing them in an older style. I do like doing hymns in a modern style and in new musical arrangements. I also understand the fact that music can take you back to a moment in your past and that is why many like singing the older songs. I understand because there are times that I hear a song, whether Christian or secular, that takes me back to a moment in life. However when I am worshiping, I personally do not want to think about my past, I want to think about my future in heaven with my Lord Jesus Christ.