In part one and two of this series, I outlined some of my past experiences while making a living and embracing the secular music culture. I also detailed some of the various adjustments that I needed to make after being born again. In this last part of the trilogy, I would like to address a couple of personal concerns I have observed along the way, as Jody and I have been ministering in different churches over the past 23 years.
Having been raised in the slippery slope of secular music, it is difficult for me to hear worship minstrels say things like, “We had a great show last night at such and such a church,” or, “We’ve got a gig next Sunday morning.” This is the language of the world. I believe we should have an entirely different desire and focus.
We are called to worship the one true God with our whole being. The best musicians in every field are those who allow their hearts to express their inner affection through their music, and passionately express the love they have. It is awesome that we, as children of God, have the opportunity and privilege of pouring out our love and adoration for our beautiful and loving Father. Worship is a time to draw near to God with our deepest hearts, and not a time to draw attention to ourselves regarding our gifts.
I don’t believe it is healthy for us to look to worldly musicians as examples to glean from. We are blessed to have so many great godly musicians that we can learn from today. When we inappropriately look up to a particular person, they may become a type of teacher or mentor. YouTube is an excellent resource for both good and bad influences. We can inadvertently start to imitate the people we are watching on the internet. Jesus said, “A student is not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher” (Luke 6:40). Sometimes we get more than we bargained for when we set our eyes upon a prize. Many great worldly musicians have very serious relational issues, and many struggle with depression and addictions, among other things.
We are born again, and we are a royal priesthood. We are the children of God. Music was created by our Heavenly Father, and the majority of people on earth have a special love for it. I believe that we should be discerning, regarding the distinction between worldly music and music dedicated to God. James says, “Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Jesus said, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). Billy Graham was quoted in 2016 as saying, “This cosmos has its own entertainment and diversions that so permeate the atmosphere that it makes the way of the cross seem antiquated and irrelevant. In much of the entertainment media fostered by the cosmos, the name of God is profaned, sex is glamorized, and high, ethical living and Christian moral standards are laughed at.”
I know that many may disagree with my viewpoint on this distinction of worldly and godly music. I’ve had passionate discussions with Christians who vehemently oppose this concept. I've been told more than once that music is ‘amoral,’ which means it is neither moral nor immoral. Let’s agree to disagree on this issue. In my experience, all forms of music have an effect on us regardless of the lyrics. There is a vibration in the sound that has the power and capability to stimulate and awaken pure or impure motivations and desires.
God desires us to be holy, the definition of which means, “devoted entirely to God or to the work of God.” That’s us! We are called to be holy. Here are some synonyms of holy: blessed, consecrated, hallowed, sacred, sanctified. We are the ‘called out’ Levites who are expected to consecrate our hearts and hands in order to be ready to worship Him in spirit and in truth. This reminds me of a song by Mercy Me, written by Chris Tomlin called “Give Us Clean Hands.”
“We bow our hearts, we bend our knees
O Spirit, come make us humble
We turn our eyes from evil things
O Lord, we cast down our idols
So give us clean hands, give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another”
O, Minstrel of Worship, I hope that you are still excited to be part of this high calling of God?
Psalm 24:3-5 says:
“Who may climb the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.
They will receive the LORD’s blessing
and have a right relationship with God, their saviour.”