“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs” (Ps. 100:2).
“Music should have beauty, pathos, and power. Let the voices be lifted in songs of praise and devotion. Call to your aid, if practicable, instrumental music, and let the glorious harmony ascend to God, an acceptable offering” (Ellen G. White, Evangelism, 505).
Few subjects have generated more conflict than the kinds of music one should listen to or the kind of music best suited for church. The old saying among pastors is that the music department in the church is often referred to as the war department because, well, that’s where some of the epic church fights take place.
I’m not going to pick sides on the “hymns vs. choruses” debate. I’m not going to debate acoustic vs. electronic. I’m not even going to bring up the various music styles. Those things are irrelevant for why music matters. Here’s why music matters: Music matters because it can transform us. It can change and strengthen our thinking, our beliefs, our values, and, ultimately, our actions. It can change a person, a group, a church, and a community. Here’s an example: In one congregation, the members were singing a song that says: “Heal my heart and make it clean / Open my eyes to the things unseen / Show me how to love like You have loved me / Break my heart for what breaks Yours / Everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause / As I walk from earth into eternity.”
It doesn’t matter what your preferred style of music is. What matters is whether you can sing those words and actually make them your honest prayer. The phrase I can’t get out of my head is, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” Do I know what breaks God’s heart? Do you? It’s actually a sign of maturity to be able to understand another’s heart. It requires us to think beyond our own concerns and consider the concerns of someone else. That’s why adults often get upset with their teenage children; they want them to think about someone beside themselves.
If you had to make a list of the top five things that break God’s heart, what would be on your list? And once you had compiled your list, would any of those things break your heart, too? If so, what would you do about it? That’s what it means to give everything you are for His kingdom’s cause. And that’s why music matters. It opens up a crack in the busy shell of our lives and drives home the character and heart of God long after the music dies down.
This is a great reason to be seated in the sanctuary when the music starts each week. You never know how God is going to use the gift of music to change your life and your world.
May this new series of articles about music be a blessing in your life and in your church family.