Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Sound of (Worship) Music

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about modern worship music and whether or not it's good, acceptable, and even biblical.  I've seen judgment on both sides of the line and some of it has gotten pretty ugly.  It's perfectly okay to have an opinion either way; it is never okay to tell someone that the music they use to worship is wrong or somehow less valid than your preference.

There is a wide variety of worship music these days.  I've seen heavy metal bands who use that style to create worship music.  I've seen rock and pop music in worship.  I've seen classical music used and I've seen traditional hymns sung.  While the heavy metal and the old-fashioned hymns aren't my particular choice, I'm sure not going to tell someone who does like those styles that they aren't really worshiping the Lord because they aren't doing it my way.  If your heart is earnestly seeking after God and you're praising His name through whatever type of song you're listening to, then what business do I have telling you that it's not as good as the way I worship?!  It may not be my personal preference, but I have no right to put you down because I don't care for that style of worship music.  That is not showing love and grace towards my fellow believers.

I recently read an article by a pastor who refuses to use modern worship songs in his church because he said they were not theologically sound.  He said that all of the old hymns are theologically sound doctrine and he even said that modern worship songs should not be used in any church, ever.  That really bothered me because many of the modern worship songs we sing at our church are actually scripture straight from the Bible set to music!  Anyone who argues that modern worship music is not theologically sound has obviously not listened to much of it.  As with anything, there are exceptions to the rule and you have to be discerning, but in large part, modern worship music is straight from the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16 says "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right" (NLT).  If all scripture is useful for teaching, then that certainly applies to scripture in modern worship songs.

I've heard people say that modern worship songs are too repetitive.  God's Word tells us in Psalm 119:11 that we should put His word in our hearts so that we don't sin against Him.  What better way to memorize scripture than by singing it?  Personally, I have a terrible memory, but when something is set to music I will remember it forever and a day.  Singing scripture is a perfect way for me to put God's word into my heart.  When I'm depressed or anxious I can recall a song quoting scripture much easier than I can recall scripture itself.  So, while modern worship songs may be repetitive in nature, they're beneficial because of it.

Another argument against modern worship songs is that they are too much like going to a rock concert and too much like entertainment rather than worship.  Well, I can tell you this-- if you're not in a worship frame of mind, you won't be able to worship no matter what style of music is playing.  If you're going to church to be entertained like at a concert then you're already going for the wrong reasons.  If you do have trouble worshiping because of the style of music then I would encourage you to find a church where you feel at home and free to worship in your own way.  I love the modern worship songs because I can let go and worship freely.  I've normally got my eyes closed and I'm not even paying attention to the lighting or the words on the screen or what the worship leader is doing.  I'm there to worship God and sing to Him alone.  I don't care what anyone else is doing because I'm too focused on God to notice!

The bottom line is this-- no matter what style of music you choose to use in your worship, focus on Jesus and give grace and love to those who choose a different style than you.  We are all the body of Christ and we should come together in worship, not tear each other apart because of our differences.