Friend, Greg Gilbert, has written a couple posts on how music in the church has become more important than the message of the cross. He sees a problem with so many people critiquing churches’ music and retorting that they cannot “worship” at that church. He wants to see people engaged in the preaching and not be so set on being entertained when they sing songs to Jesus. ((The last point in Bob Kauflin’s post will hit on much of what I say here…))
I have been thinking about this for a week or so (at least siince the post was originally up) and have thought there might be something of a corrective in such statements people make about whether they can worship or not. What has happened to many in my generation is that they have experienced an emotionally engaging time of singing and heard good expository preaching (like at a Passion event) and have returned and been let down by the singing and the preachnig. While it is not justified to leave an assembly because tears aren’t streaming down your face, neither is it justified for a preacher to relay great, transcendent spiritual realities and not be affected himself. How many preachers are there who are emotionless and claim that emotions are just a caboose? They are nice to have if the Lord lets you have them, but they are not essential to what it means to be a Christian.
I know frmo my own experience that I was disappointed with what churches claimed to be acts of worship before God, but their affections were untouched. They could recite deep doctrine, but it had not planted itself deep in their hearts. And so in an effort to sense the Lord’s nearness I had equated superficial intensity for influential listening and obedience from a heart of joy.
Much of what people are feeling (or not feeling) stems from their disbelief that these truths are real when the preacher and song leader are not engaged with God on an emotional level. In other words, the notes that come from the piano, guitar, and egg shaker need to reflect something of the intensity that is inherent in the words. Can the words “God, Most glorious” be set to a monotone voice? May it never be.
It has been said that Albert Einstein was not a very religious man, but he was a spiritual man. That is to say he did not attend organized religious services, but knew that there was a transcendent reality that could envelope him and overwhelm him. His studies of the universe and the intricacies of the atomic world informed that the heavens truly are declaring the glory of God in powerful ways. So many of our preachers are not gripped by the magnificence and power and delight found in God. They mouth words, and so many people are not able to worship to monotonous music – not merely because of the rhythm – because the shepherd of their souls does not know how to lead them to the fountain of delights.
Our culture does not need a rock band to speak their sappy love language. Instead, they need the awkward words of Scripture to wake them from their dogmatic slumbers and astound them with the might and glory in the Creator of supernovas, black holes, and crickets.
May God grant that churches will take the rebuke from people who are inhibited in their worship because the doctrine does not match the emotion.