Monday, December 17, 2012

The Mystery of Music

Who can explain music and what it does to the soul? I guess you could say it is some forms of vibrations if you were nothing but a scientist, but even scientists like their own brand of music. Even people who cannot song a lick or play any kind of instrument love certain kinds of music. Some music brings us back to former days and some music allows our hearts to dream. Old girlfriends, loved ones now passed, days abroad, school days, and other seasons are sometimes brought back to us through music.

Some music lifts the heart while some brings melancholy. We can remember words to Beatle songs fifty years ago and yet we forget our neighbors name. Why? Because music can also attach itself to things and with that we can remember. It is most amazing. Music can bring out evil in people, as well as “soothe the savage beast”. Music is a gift from God indeed. Of course it is sometimes used for carnal and even evil purposes, but the entity we call music has a higher and loftier purpose. With the words of the Spirit contained in some melody music can be a spiritual conduit wherein God can reach the heart. How many of us have been comforted, challenged, healed, enlightened, broken, and even led to repentance through a song? Or even some wordless music.

My mother was a musician and I have always loved music. From piano and trumpet lessons as a child, to being in the high school marching and dance band, and then enjoying all kinds of music after high school. Even experiencing some low level bands in which I sang. Music is a part of me. But then I met Jesus.

Something changed within me. Yes I can still sing almost every Beatles song, and yes I still remember and can sing along with groups like Jethro Tull, the Moody Blues, Elton John, and a long list of others. But after I came to faith in Christ God took what I knew and expanded and refined it, and I found a new energy to revisit my piano. I began to appreciate and be ministered to by gospel music and praise and worship music. In the early days Evie Tornquist was a headliner so you can see I go back to when man discovered fire.

Not long after I became a believer I fell into a legalist camp and they convinced me that only a small set of music parameters are acceptable to God. We were proud that we sung holy songs and did not participate in these “contemporary” elements. Can you imagine the hypocritical irony of being self righteous about worship? Wow. But later little by little I was released from that kind of bondage, even though I still have my personal preferences as well as some things about which I disagree. But here is one thing I have learned over the years.

There was a time where I could not worship or enjoy spiritual music if I disagreed with the singer’s theology or even what I perceived to be their lifestyle. Those things in context are important, but I have found that even people about which I have problems can write beautiful songs of praise and worship. And although I still may not embrace the singer, I can worship God through their music. I realize we must avoid making music and end all and be found worshiping music and not worshiping God. And we must always guard our hearts in that.

All of us have found ourselves singing a song in church while our mind and hearts stray. Who among us can say we have never looked around at people or even the worship leader when our minds should be fully stayed upon Christ? “Prone to wander Lord I feel it” makes Robinson a prophet. Our flesh wants to streamline worship and multitask while we sing. But as I have said, I can weed out thoughts about the writer or singer and I can allow my heart to worship. It is freedom in the Spirit.

When songs have words the lyrics are important to me. If the words are shallow and meaningless then I cannot enjoy it even if the melody is enchanting. There are many songs that are spiritual in nature which draw my heart to meditate upon Christ, but there are only a handful of songs which break me and wound my carnal man. Those songs are used of the Spirit to bring me to a place of His presence and a place of worship. But we must all be careful not to love the music as an idol and thereby sacrifice the presence of the Redeemer. There is nothing wrong with a key change or a greater amplification as long as it does not inadvertently take the place of the Spirit.

You see, man’s highest calling is worship. Fallen man worships all kinds of things, and most often himself. We can use so many artificial accoutrements that we have created an atmosphere for excitement or even sentimentality but not for worship. But I have also found that even in those overdone environments there are some humble saints who truly are worshiping God. I have seen mature saints mouthing a hymn while looking around as if they were window shopping, and I have seen newborn saints worshiping Christ in sincerity even though the service is a kind of theatrical production. It is a fine line.

But even though we can discern some fleshly worship services that attempt to drive and manipulate people, we must never be prideful about our own expressions of worship. God sees the heart, and even though some forms of music may seem to appeal to the flesh, God never really addresses music style and forms. But all of us must prepare our hearts to allow music to block out the sounds of this world and captivate our hearts in the glory of the Crucified and Risen Christ. If we could worship Him for a million years He would deserve a million more. And, in fact, we will worship Him forever in the glory of eternity. It remains to be seen just how music will play a part in that, but to be sure, it will be all about Him.


Anonymous said...

I've often wondered too about worship music and draw the same conclusions as here. We all sin, and those who wrote the lyrics and music were inspired to do it for the Lord. If there were problems in their lives, before, during or after their inspiration to write, that doesn't affect how their music draws us to the Lord. Those who till the garden and planted the seeds paved the way for others in future to reap the seeds of their labor of love. Now the harvest. I just pray that all those who wrote such inspirational music and performed will always stay with the Lord.

But if I forget who the words were written by, who performs the music and focus on the Lord while worshipping, it glorifies Him and I have peace. If I'm thinking about how wonderful the song sounds and how the musicians are so talented, I kind of sink in the water, like Peter.

If one song can inspire someone to lift up their hearts to God, then it's good. As soon as my mind wanders, I sink like a stone and have to get my mind totally back on Jesus.

God is so amazing that he invented music and puts that gift in us. Of course, I remember hearing pastors talk about how Satan was the most beautiful angel in heaven before the fall, and he was the head angel of worship, and whether this is biblical or not, it's been said that he was the head musician. Regardless, God is the creator and created music and like everything, a gift in us can be used to glorify God, or glorify ourselves.

I can't imagine what kind of beautiful music there awaits chrisians in heaven.

Ramone said...

Sometimes as I have listened to a piece of music --whether two years old or two-hundred years old-- I have felt that the music is right, but that the words aren't quite the right words... like there are different words meant to go with it. Somehow I think we'll hear the right words when everything is finished and we're home with Him forever. =)

deetwang said...

I think all styles of music are good. Worship music becomes dangerous when a drum beat is played over and over and the words turn into a "chant". This causes people to enter into a trance like state where they'll believe false doctrine. We are to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul and ALL OUR MIND. So turning off half your brain and going into an alpha state of consciousness opens the door to the enemy. Guard your gates!