Thursday, August 27, 2015

What if our Worship Music was as Multifaceted as the God we Worship? (Part 2)

One of my pet peeves as a Christian and as a pastor is that even though we serve and love and worship and trust a God Who is interesting, inventive, and unique, our worship music could hardly ever be called by those same adjectives.

There are three main areas that I find especially saddening given the God we worship. Last we looked at the first, The Lack of Variety in Themes and Subjects. This week we will also talk about the dearth of poetic genres in Christian worship music, while next week we will cover the lack of musical styles in Christian worship. 

You've been there before. You're in church. The band is playing. They are playing a song. It's a good song. But it's not the song you want to be singing. No, I'm not talking about a cover for the newest Hillsong hit. I'm talking about that time when you are there and you want to be singing your heart out to God about something going on in your life, but you can't. Not because you don't know what you want to say. Not because you don't feel like singing. But because the praise team is playing a song of worshipful celebration, and you want to sing a song asking God to actually show up. Or maybe you're singing a song about love and forgiveness, but you want God to bring your enemy to shame. 

Some people will tell you the problem is probably with you: "You are too depressed or too angry to worship God." But while for sure sometimes you are the problem, what if the problem this time is not a lack of faith or a lack of forgiveness, but the lack of a song of desperation in your praise team's repertoire, or the lack of a song of justice on the lips of  your brothers and sisters? 

Last week we discussed how our worship music as Christians tends to lack many prominent themes of Scriptural worship, in terms of what is said/sung about God. This may or may not be related to the problem we're looking at today. Someone could suggest that it is precisely because Christian worship music lacks certain themes and subjects, that it also lacks certain poetic forms or genres. While I suspect there is at least some correspondence between the two, I think it is also the case that the problem sometimes with our worship music is that we really only have one kind of worship music: praise music. 

The problem is that the Bible has way more kinds of worship music than just praise music. That means that the longing in your soul to sing something else in a moment of pain or oppression may not be your lack of maturity as a Christian, but the mark of the Holy Spirit working in your soul to express yourself honestly in His presence. 

Jesus is famous for saying in John 4.23, "But the time is coming, and now is that time, when genuine worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, and in fact the Father is looking for those kind of people worshiping Him." But gives us two questions: 1) How can we worship in the Spirit, if we don't allow for the Spirit to express Himself however He wants? and 2) How can we worship in truth, if our hearts are not able to express in worship what truly is in them? 

This is not just a question of content or theme, because in fact you can sing about the same themes if very different ways. For example, I can praise God for the love that He always gives me, or I can ask God to reveal  His love to me, or even I can humbly remind God that because He loves me, He is committed to keeping His promises to me. 

The point is the Bible gives us a lot of kinds of poetic genres to use in worship, or in other words God wants us to be able to praise Him in worship (Psalm 150) as much as He wants us to be able to cry out in pain (Ps. 88) and desperation in worship (Ps. 22) as much as He wants us to reflect on the nature of the world (Ps. 1) as much as He wants us to cry out for justice/vengeance (Ps. 137) as much as He wants us to repent of our sins in worship (Ps. 51) as much as He wants us to beg for the needs that we have in worship (Ps. 86) as much as He wants us to celebrate Who He is and what He has done (Ps. 136) as much as He wants us to claim the promises He has given us in worship (Ps. 50). 

The book of psalms has many examples of all those poetic forms of songs. Sometimes a praise song is not want the community or an individual needs, sometimes we need to beg for God to avenge the wrongs done to us, other times we need to lament the wait of Christ's return or intervention into our problems. 

So don't be afraid to look for worship music that allows you to express all you need and want to God, and don't be afraid to demand it (humbly) from your church leadership, since they owe it to God and to you to open up the beautiful bounty of God's given forms of worship music, as much as they owe it to God and to you to worship God in all His Multifacetedness. 

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