As I was reading in the Psalms today, it occurred to me one of the many reasons that music and singing as personal worship is really “hit or miss” for a lot of people has to do with comfort.
Not immediate comfort (think the climate controls for driver and passenger in a car). More like, an overall comfort in life where we have no immediate needs.
I should preface this by saying that singing to God is commanded in scripture, and there are no qualifying statements about singing only being performed by people that love music, (like me) or people that are really talented (like others).
It seems that comfort and singing are rarely next to each other in the scriptures. Singing has often through human history been a means of comforting the soul, or at the very least expressing something that you feel. This occurs most often in times of trouble, times of sorrow, and times of elation or joy. These are not neutral places for the soul, but instead a time when a person is most aware of themselves and their Creator.
The problem for many church attenders is that they sit through a church service and feel nothing. The problem for many worship leaders and service planners is that worship is not about emotion and sometimes emotion can even lead us away from true worship.
From the pain of David in the Psalms fleeing from his enemies desperately trying to save his life, to the richness of the old Negro Spirituals, there is undoubtedly a connection between great anguish and powerful, evocative music. Joy and deep peace have been a spring of art as well, but an exciting joy (the birth of the child, a financial windfall, a new relationship) is what leads to song. Not a stripped down, temporary joy, like the joy I feel over my favorite burrito at Qdoba.
I guess my point is this; comfort in many ways removes the human need to respond to anything. At its most basic level, the human soul will seep in apathy and a numbing stillness unless provoked. Grace seems pretty provocative to me.
I pray that we would be a provoked people.