Music, Worship, and The Word
As I write this blog, there is music playing in the background. When I’m driving down the road, I listen to music. When I’m cutting my grass, I listen to music. I enjoy sitting in silence but I also enjoy sitting down and listening to music. Because music has this ability to stir up within us emotions. When I am having a difficult time, there are certain songs I’ll turn on to calm my emotions. My wife knows when I play a certain artist that it’s not time for chit chat, it’s time to relax and listen.
Music can calm us down. Music can pump us up. Music can rally a group of people. Music can start a movement. Music is used to express our hearts’ desires.
Music is tied to certain memories. We remember the music that was playing at our High School prom. We remember the songs we learned in Vacation Bible School. I’ve heard it said that many times our favorite music genera are what we listened to in High School (I went to High School in the late 90s/early 2000s, this is NOT true for me).
Music does have the ability to spark certain areas of our brains. Our “favorite” songs may become our “favorite” songs simply because of repetition. Think about it, if you listen to the radio you may here a song the first time and not really care for it BUT the third or fourth time, it becomes your jam. With this repetition, we learn. We memorize with music. We put things into our brains that we might not even know is there until it comes out.
The Word of God is both living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword. The Word of God is relevant and applicable for today. The Word of God is the absolute TRUTH. All of scripture is given to man from God except ONE book. There is ONE book of the Bible that is NOT from God to man, the book of Psalms. The book of Psalms is different than all the other books of the Bible. The book of Psalms is written by men to God. The book of Psalms is the absolute truth but a different kind of absolute truth than the rest of scripture.
For example, look at Psalms 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning?” You don’t normally see this verse on a coffee cup or read this verse at a ceremony. This verse written by David is the absolute truth of how David was feeling (his emotions) but it is NOT absolute truth of the character of God. God does not abandon, Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or abandon you.” In a moment David felt abandoned by God, but he wasn’t abandoned by God.
Psalms 22:1 is not a verse we typically teach truth from. We don’t walk through the book of Psalms and teach that God abandons His people. We don’t tell our students to memorize this verse and use it when they are fighting temptation. We teach David’s emotions. We teach David’s feelings towards God and we teach what we ought to do if we feel the same way.
We tend to teach how to live for God’s glory in spite of our emotions/feelings. Because “the heart is more deceitful than anything else” (Jeremiah 17:9) … we have to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
There are many “forms” of worship, but for the sake of this blog lets categorize worship as worship through music. Worship is when we bring music and the Word together. Music in general is all about stirring up within us emotions. The Word of God is NOT about emotions, The Word of God is about truth. So, there is the delicate balance between emotions and truth. Worship should stir within us emotions. Emotions based on who God is and our response towards Him.
Worship is not about our feelings! Worship is making less of ourselves and more of God.
Worship music has this ability to formulate our theology. Because we learn through music. If we sing a song long enough, it becomes our favorite AND we know the tune and we know the words. Since our worship music has the ability to formulate our theology, our worship music ought to be based on truth and not geared towards emotions. We may have a temptation to play the newest and greatest worship song BUT if that song is not fully orthodox (true), we should NOT use that song in worship.
One of the newest catchy worship songs is “Reckless Love”. I love the song “Reckless Love” and I love the emotions that stir up within me when I sing it. I love singing about how when I was God’s foe, still his love fought for me. I love singing about how God’s love chases me, fights for me, leaves the ninety-nine and comes to find me. I love singing about how I can not earn God’s love, nor do I deserve it … BUT claiming God’s love as “reckless” is an issue.
I feel as though I understand the meaning behind the song, the writer feels as though God’s love is reckless. God’s love gives the impression of recklessness because it leaves the ninety-nine, fights for us, chases us, can not earn it and we don’t deserve it … BUT God’s love is NOT reckless. Nothing God does is reckless. Our theology of who God is should not be based on our own personal feelings and/or emotions, but rather on the TRUTH of God’s Word. We may feel as though God’s love is reckless BUT that’s not true.
If I continually sing this song in worship to a congregation young in their faith, their theology will be shaped by the words of this song. They will potentially grow up in their faith believing that the God of the universe is reckless.
Music has this great power to stir within us emotions. Music has this ability to tug on our hearts. The Word of God leads us to surrender our emotions to Him for His glory.
Worship has to balance emotions and truth and ought to lean more towards the truth side.
Let us as Student Pastors led students to worship in Spirit and in Truth. Let us as Student Pastors declare the truth of who God is even in the songs we sing. Let us as leaders within the body of Christ teach the truth of who God is even in the songs we sing during worship.
This blog was originally posted on https://shepherdingstudents.com/.
I Am a Worshiper is a 40-Day Student Discipleship Journal designed to teach students 8 essential traits and attitudes of worship.
Worship doesn’t have to be confusing. It doesn’t have to be theoretical or vague. The kind of worship we see in the Bible is a simple recognition of who God is and what he’s done for us. And it has practical implications for our daily lives.
Use I Am a Worshiper with an individual student or walk through this resource with a small group of students. Weekly Mentor questions are provided to help you debrief what your students are learning.
About the Author
Cody Thomas is the Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church in Franklinton, LA. He is passionate about leading teenagers to know and experience Jesus. Cody is married to the love of his life, Mallory, and they currently have two beautiful daughters. Cody has served in student ministry for many years and is looking forward to… Read More