My Problem with Church Music
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. James 1:22-2
I’ve long struggled with the music we sing in church. It’s probably not what you think. At my church, we have beautiful music and those on stage do a fantastic job. My problem is with the lyrics. As I’ve stood there singing about worshipping God, I’ve often felt phony. To worship God is to express reverence, bowing in submission before him and recognizing him as creator – the one whom we should obey. Because the music is so compelling, I’ve found myself singing along with real emotion, but then, when the service is over, so is the song and so is the emotion. One minute I’m singing of my undying devotion to God, but then I walk out the door of the church and think, I’m hungry. What’s for lunch? What do I want to do with my day? I sing that I’ll follow God forever, but then I give him an hour on Sunday morning. The rest of the week is mine. Like I said – phony.
This is like going to an AA meeting and then stopping for drinks afterwards. This is like going to a weight watchers meeting and then eating a box of donuts on the way home. This is participating in an activity and then immediately forgetting the entire purpose of that activity.
This is the warning of James in today’s passage. In it, he demanded that we not only hear the word of God, but that we do it. As Christians, we’re not simply to learn right teaching and adopt correct doctrine. As followers of Christ, we must put that teaching into practice. Knowledge alone is useless unless we allow it to drive our behavior. Right knowledge is simply a stepping stone to right living. James said that if we only hear the word and don’t do it, we’re like a man who looks in the mirror and then walks away, forgetting what he looks like. We’re like a man who sits in church, singing of commitment to God, but then walks out to follow himself.
My problem with church music is me. I’m the problem. I look in the mirror that is worship but then I walk away, forgetting what I saw. Being a Christian isn’t simply getting caught up in the emotion of a beautiful song on Sunday. Following Christ means daily abandoning my way so that I may follow God, loving others as he’s loved me.