Words have incredible power! Don’t they?
“Will you marry me?” “Yes!” “No…” (yikes – would hate to be that guy)
“You are beautiful!”
“You are worthless!”
Words have the power to change the course of human history, change perspectives, and ultimately change peoples’ lives.
Music has incredible power!
You hear it everywhere! I literally just heard a car going down Broadway blaring thumping music out of their car windows. Imagine movies without music. Imagine life without music. Music, sound, is literally vibrations moving through the atmosphere. Scientists actually say that everything in our world – plants, buildings, people, cars…everything! – is in constant movement, everything is vibrating, so music is actually creating harmony within creation/nature itself.
Put these two mediums together – words and music – and you have a powerful force that can change the world!
Think back to songs that have impacted your life or the life of your family or church. What did you do? You shared them.
A couple of years back my father almost died from complications from surgery. While he was laying in the hospital and we didn’t know yet if he would live, die, be in a vegetative state if he did live, or what condition by father would be in, there was a powerful song that had just come out, “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott and the Scott Family that my sister shared with me.
The moment those first words “…these four words. Thy will be done…” rung out in my ears my heart collapsed and my sister and I broke down weeping in the car as we poured out our hearts before the LORD, together, singing the spiritual truth that His will is better than ours. We know He sees us, that He hears us, that He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His promise, and that has goodness in store. We already knew these things in our minds, but now we were genuinely understanding them by feeling them deep within our hearts.
Today my dad is with us; walking, talking, singing, reading, writing, eating In N Out Burgers, and playing with his grandkids. The LORD did a marvelous work in his life. But the LORD also did an incredible work in my family’s life through music, through that song. It became the theme of my family’s life during that particular season and brought great comfort and faith to our lives as not only a biological family, but as a spiritual family in Christ.
When we think about “worship.” Our minds often times automatically go to music. Worship is often equated not just to our weekly services, but to the specific part where we sing songs together.
Where does the Bible say that this powerful medium of music is focused?
God? You’d think!…but actually, no.
One another! #Whaaaaaaat?!
That’s right! Music in Jesus’ Church was meant to be directed at one another!
Let’s look at what Paul writes in Ephesians and Colossians – two of the most incredibly Christological (Christ-Centered) letters Paul wrote – about music in the life of the Church.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. – Ephesians 5:15-21
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. – Colossians 3:12-17
It’s important to see the context of these two scriptures because as you see, it’s talking mainly about the content of our relationships within the body of Christ. “Bearing with one another,” “Let the peace of Christ rule in ‘ya’lls’ hearts,” “Whoever has a complaint against another,” “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within ‘ya’ll,’” etc…
These passages speak to the content of our relationships, and all of the character content (putting on hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience) is all for the benefit of the body, the Church, God’s beloved people.
So what is the purpose of singing and making music in the Church? What are the two words used? Speaking (addressing) one another and admonishing one another.
Speaking, or addressing, one another speaks to music being the content of our speech with one another, meaning we focus the music we sing toward one another.
The word admonish means to appeal to someone’s mind, helping to shape their doctrine or their thinking in a spiritual way. It does not mean to “chastise” someone or anything in the negative. Admonishing is to apply positive pressure to someone to encourage them, exhort them, or build them up.
We sing psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs with thanksgiving in our hearts to God and giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God. The power of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs – words and music – in the Church is the unleashing of truth and the cultivation of affection for our good and beautiful LORD. That’s important…TOWARD God…in the name of the LORD Jesus. This the defining context. We sing about God, about the Truth of our creator, about the glories and majesty and power of Christ, of the ecstacy of Holy Spirit as He encourages our hearts, heals, speaks, and builds up the body of Christ.
So what does this look like? It looks like the Church singing corporate songs that speak of who we are in Christ, of spiritual truths about Jesus, His Church, and eternity. It looks like singing songs with corporate words like “we,” “our,” and “us” cultivating the communion of Saints. It means singing songs that are not simply poetic in nature (not that they’re not poetic), but teach rich and beautiful theology magnifying the deep and spiritual truths of our LORD. It looks like people singing TO each other not just standing next to each other. It means that when we sing songs together, we do so in a context that brings people closer together, encourages all of us together, and gives thanks to God…together.
Joy! God desires joy in His Church. Yes, Jesus loves you individually, but He didn’t save you to be an individual. He saved you to make you a part of His Church, His Bride, His Body, His Kingdom. He loves you individually and, even more so, He loves His PEOPLE corporately.
His passion, His desire, the center of God’s heart and soul…is the Church. He bled and died for…the Church. You don’t go to services or sing songs at worship nights for you. Go to encourage the body, to cultivate relationships and community with other brothers and sisters, and to grow in your affection for Christ, together; by singing psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs with thanksgiving in your hearts to God, together.