Okay, so I know what you’re thinking.
I’m a follower of Christ, and I’m in a much deeper relationship than I have ever been. One of my favorite things to do is to worship Him in any way I can. I like using my passions for people, art, and music to show the world just how massively and infinitely cool God is. That’s only a few forms of worship; there are literally too many to count or to list. That being said, music is one of the main forms that we use to worship our Papa in our current society; singing praises and hymns has been an influential form for almost as long as this world has been around. King David was essentially a pioneer, setting an example for the people of God’s kingdom that we have been following to this day. However, I feel that we have limited ourselves in that type of worship.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not discriminating against the Christian music industry. There are many inspirational songs and artists that are truly genuine and passionate that have become a staple in our society, ones that are truly Spirit-filled. The only problem is that many Christ-followers predominantly look to this kind of Christian contemporary music to get a holy experience, and oftentimes, it hasn’t been enough. I can definitely attest to that.
Growing up in a typical American religious home, and being practically raised in a church environment, I knew plenty of Christian songs, and I still do. I pretty much only listened to 91.9 FM or 94.1 K-Love (anyone else know what I’m talking about?). Every church service had a steady flow of peppy and upbeat praises followed by a slow and sentimental piece or two. Each one was relatively simple; a couple verses with a chorus (and a bridge if the songwriter felt adventurous), often accentuated with a couple who-o-o-a-a-a’s here and there. There were staple songs on Christian radio that were replayed many times throughout the day, both exciting and serious, mostly serious. You know, the “fun” songs and the ones where you’d change the station to avoid hearing.
Thankfully, both of my worship-leader parents were and still are a great example for me about truly worshipping the Lord, and the friends that our family has made have also impacted me deeply. However, like I said before, a majority of the church services that I attended were pretty much the exact same as the week before. Deep down, I always had this hole inside me, a longing for something truly moving, something beyond what I was used to hearing. I was taught that worship like that was meant to fill that hole, but it never did for me. Members of the church would often say, “Man, the Spirit really moved in the service today,” up to the point where that sentence was almost commonplace. I’ve even said it on some occasions! My inner thoughts did not match those words, though; I genuinely couldn’t feel anything from the masses of praise ditties played in similar chord progressions.
Surely, there is something beyond this.
Music defined as “Christian” seems like it needs to fit a specific mold. Michael Gungor makes a great point in The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse, which I highly recommend anyone to read. Many of the top Christian & Gospel songs on iTunes are very similar to each other. The lyrics are simple and easy to remember, as are the underlying messages, and there is a usually even tempo. Many people can and have gotten their God-fix from these songs. But I am telling you, there is so much more to find our Papa’s Spirit in besides that!
I feel that we as Christ-followers have limited ourselves to believe that this certain type of music officially designated for worshipping God, and while many of us want to be truly and completely WRECKED by Him, we make feeble attempts by trying to solely rely on the artists and songs that we classify as Christian, when really there is a whole world of sound and sight right in front of us!
In the book of Genesis, before we learn anything else about God, we find out that He is a Creator. Stephen Roach of Songs of Water makes a very good point about creativity and God’s image; heck, I could write an entire additional post on that, which I’ll probably end up doing. God created the entire universe and what lays in it. Best of all, guys, He said, “Let us create man in Our image (Gen. 1:26),” meaning that we are a reflection of God Himself, and we bring Him infinite joy!
That’s pretty mind-blowing to think about.
We are made in God’s image, and that image is the creativity within us. So many people are incredibly blessed with artistic talents, but believe it or not, every single person is creative, whether or not that person has accepted Him as the Lord. Stephen said that creativity is not an ornament, but it is our essence, our birthright! That’s just the way God made us.
Okay, I’ve been rambling a little. Talking about creativity really gets me fired up. I’ll definitely be expanding on this in another blog post.
As I was saying, there is a whole world of music, sights, and actions that can be used to bring God the glory. However, since music is a dominant form that mankind defines as an act of worship, that’s what I’m going to focus on. The way I see it, a song in its purest form is an inspiration. People are constantly inspired by music, whether they are affected by the words, the rhythm, the sounds. But do they know what inspiration really is?
Inspiration is being breathed upon by God.
You may not recognize it, but I’m serious here: inspiration comes from God Himself, and He gives it to us freely. That’s where music comes from, too. There are countless mentions of singing praises in the Bible, from both ordinary people as well as God’s own angels, so naturally, music is God’s own invention. by making us in His image, He gave each of us us the ability to make and appreciate music. I believe that strongly. People have always had a passion for music, whether it has been creating it or listening to it. Our modern culture is so heavily defined by it, but I think that the modern Christian culture especially is defined by it, and that kind of breaks my heart a little.
There is a song that’s very popular now; it has this one lyric:
Take the world and give me Jesus.
That is not right! Yes, it has a good intention; be solely focused on Christ. However, only focusing on pleasing God takes us further away from His original purposes for us. When God made Adam and Eve, He gave them reign over the earth beneath them and everything in it! This world belongs to us, and while God wants us to be close to Him, He also wants us to be close to the Earth, finding His majesty in everything.
Worship has no limits, and sources of worship is no exception. Yes, while there is some music that I like to set aside for when I really need to focus on what God wants to tell me, I much rather prefer finding Him in everything else I am around, including music. Honestly, I listen to Sigur Ros’s Valtari album ALL THE TIME, and I always have a holy experience. While the group is profoundly against God, He is what their music makes me think of, and it totally moves me! Personally, that’s my example of how God hides His majesty in the everyday. Anything by Songs of Water…I’m instantly wrecked. I have become a little more able to find praises in the music that I really enjoy, and honestly, it feels amazing to experience!
Christians, churches, nonprofit radio stations, I speak to you. God’s majesty is all around us. He wants us to find it. And if you find it in the Christian songs that you are used to hearing, then that is wonderful. I earnestly just want you all to know that it does not stop there.
We should not need to be defined by religion; instead, let’s be defined by God. Who’s with me?