Music affects the mind and soul in unique and powerful ways. It’s a soundtrack to our lives and has profound affects on our physiology. Song expresses the common longings of the human heart and effortlessly carries story. All this I readily accept.
But what else is musical worship for?
At times I wonder if I have missed out on what God has given to his kids in musical worship. I frequently find solace in the songs of the Church. I have found encouragement in hearing something expressed perfectly, that I too feel, in the poetry of the songs of the Church. I have felt the “lifting up” and invigoration that can happen when singing in the company of many others needing asking their Creator for the same change.
Would I describe worship as a weapon in my everyday fight?
I recently wrestled with and realized my own ignorance around this purpose of the songs we sing as a community. Prompted by a new song we introduced to Doxa Church this Sunday called “Raise a Hallelujah”. It was written around the idea that our singing is a weapon against doubt and struggle in our life with Christ, penned as the author wrestled with doubts that God would heal life-threatening illnesses that affected his pastor’s two children right before Christmas (the kids recovered, but read the story here).
I don’t believe any of us, including the most theologically astute, fully understand how musical worship functions as a form of attack against, and protection from, that which is evil in the world. Yet I can’t deny that there is enough evidence in scripture for us to pay attention to, and practice, musical worship as a weapon. To that end, consider these three statements:
1. Musical worship can be Biblical and mystical at the same time.
I love my Bible. I believe it is sufficient and lacking nothing in terms of needed revelation from God. God’s word is timeless and essential in the life of the believer. This is why, in part, our gatherings are saturated with scripture.
I also notice that most reformed folks go to great lengths to avoid the mystical nature of God. They prefer clean constructs and tidy theologies. While I deeply appreciate the desire for thoughtful accuracy and biblical precision, there isn’t always a labeled box for what I see God doing. He is other.
Why do we presuppose that encountering the dynamic and transcendent maker of the universe wouldn’t involve a little mystery? Let’s recognize that musical worship is as much mystical as it is cardinal. Part of the mystical nature of music tangibly changes the outcome of situations in scripture.
A few examples:
a. God incorporates musicians in his armies, and their songs directly impact the end result of the battle (see 2 Chronicles 20).
b. Paul famously sings his way out of a jail cell. (Which by the way, was a disgusting and loathsome place. Any modern county holding cell would comparatively feel like a night at the Hilton.) This is no small thing, and I can imagine the jailer had no problem believing that God works through song.
c. Singing is commanded in the same breath as warfare language in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5. Part of putting sin to death, is to engage battle in song.
“Let’s recognize that musical worship is as much mystical as it is cardinal.”
2. Music is the handle, and God’s word is the blade.
The picture of God’s word as a sword is certainly more than poetry. Repeating what is true in song is a powerful way to sever our thoughts from what is false and deceptive about our lives. Focusing on the simple declarations of Christ over our lives cuts through the chaos of our inner thoughts and anxieties. Music is a powerful way of wielding the part of the weapon that actually does the work; the blade. Like a gun with no bullets, music itself is powerless to do spiritual battle.
3. We would be wise to more quickly reach for worship in the face of our own battles.
You might think as a worship pastor I would regularly burst into song when I feel discouraged or when I’m not sure how to solve a problem. The truth is that’s not the case. I’m much more quick to reach for a logical assessment or a tactical plan. Taking a moment to sing can feel like the absolute last thing that would help a situation.
I can’t help but wonder how often the outcome in a difficult situation would have looked differently if my first reaction was to reach for the same power that decimated armies and shattered jail bars. I’m thankful for all the aspects of musical worship that I do grasp, but know that God’s thoughts are higher than mine and yours. If we would ask God to show us more of what He desires to accomplish in song, we would likely be surprised. Like finding a weirdly shaped tool in your Dad’s old toolbox, and not understanding its purpose until you watched him use it.
I want to grow in using musical worship as a weapon. I want to hear more stories of musical worship changing the outcome of things. Not because we are saying magic words, or because any of us are able to manipulate Christ’s will, but because our Father in heaven is incredibly powerful, majestically mystical, and a big fan of His kids music.
Published by: Donald in Devotions