Life’s not a musical. You don’t just break into song to move your life’s plot forward the moment you feel a particular emotion.
It’s not a 1920’s dinner party, there’s a good chance no one can play jazz standards on the piano, and no, no one is making you sing.
It’s not even college. Sure, there were the guys that learned one song (probably Wonderwall by Oasis) to impress girls (or, if you went to a small Christian college, John Mark McMillan’s How He Loves) to start impromptu praise groups around campus, but that was probably a couple of people.
…and you (read: “I”) judge them.
So why does the music leader at church insist on making singing a group activity? VEVO, Spotify, and iTunes remind us that music is best left to the professionals, and acceptable singing environments are limited to cars, showers, and, with the right encouragement from friends and alcohol, karaoke bars. Anywhere else is off limits. Singing in front of other people is not comfortable, and it’s not even a part of our culture.
Except it is. All you need to do is go see Coldplay, U2, Imagine Dragons, or 21 Pilots in concert. Suddenly it’s a host of voices, greater than the sum of its parts, partaking in an incredible shared experience. All of them confessing the lyrics, “but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for!”
And no one bats an eye.
So there’s obviously some kind of separation going on in our minds. Maybe we could benefit from understanding that we are more than “just singing” on Sunday mornings.
Here are a couple of nuggets from scripture that may help.
Fair warning: these aren’t going to excuse you from singing. When you read the scriptures, you’ll understand why I can’t faithfully give you a way out of that one. Sorry.
(1 Chronicles 16:23)
Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.
This is a biggie, and we’ll just get this out of the way. God tells us to sing in His Word. Done. There’s even a whole songbook in the Bible devoted to songs, and it’s called the Book of Psalms. Now that the issue of singing vs. not singing is settled, we can talk about why that’s a really amazing gift to us.
When you sing in church and the songs are about Jesus’ work on the cross, the resurrection, and the forgiveness of your sins, someone might hear about the Gospel for the first time. Or the thousandth time, but boy did they need the reminder. Maybe you needed to remind yourself.
We’ve got the best news for all eternity, and it’s worth singing about – again and again and again. Your dad telling you ‘I love you’ once your entire life doesn’t cut it. Hearing "The God of the universe loves you and sent His Son to die for you so you could live your life free of shame (and party in Heaven FOREVER)” once your entire life also doesn’t cut it.
When we sing, we douse others and ourselves with the Gospel like a little kid with a water hose on a record-breaking summer day. It refreshes us and we feel alive again.
There's nothing quite like it.
Scripture says singing is an appropriate, even preferred, way to celebrate theGospel.
And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
So I write some songs for the church. Moses – a prophet who led God’s people out of Egypt - wrote a song and they’re singing it in heaven. What am I doing with my life? If I think about it too hard I consider assuming the title of “former songwriter.”
This part of scripture is a vision of heaven, and the people there are singing to Jesus for eternity. In our Sunday morning worship services at CrossPoint, we’re joining a song that’s going on 24/7. Imagine the most incredible concert you’ve ever been to – the longing for that amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m not going to discount those experiences. On the contrary, those are a reflection of the desire Jesus put in us to praise and sing with millions of angels and saints every Sunday morning and for eternity.
When you sing in church, you don’t just sing alongside the people in the room; it’s the host of heaven, greater than the sum of its parts, partaking in an incredible shared experience. All of them confessing, “salvation is found in Christ alone.”
It’s kind of humbling, isn’t it?
You and I get to be a part of something so much greater than just singing on Sunday morning. We are joining countless angels and saints confessing that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is worthy of our songs and He works through them for our sake.
I get that these are some big, ethereal, nebulous, spiritual concepts. Honestly, when I’m not leading, my singing can depend more on what’s on my mind or what I ate for breakfast some mornings. I hope that I can leave you with a bit of down-to-earth encouragement - not the “I encourage you to do something” kind, either, more like “I hope you’re encouraged” actual encouragement.
First, Jesus gave you the voice you have. He delights in hearing from you. So sing without shame. I’m talking about both your ability to sing on pitch and the weight of things on your heart. There are moments when I’ve felt like God doesn’t want to hear my voice because how I’ve lived my life, only to be greeted by songs reminding me…
“Chief of sinners though I be,
Jesus shed His blood for me;
Died that I might live on high,
Lived that I might never die,
As the branch is to the vine,
I am His, and He is mine.”
When I didn’t seek Him, Jesus sought me. Jesus’ response to my sin is to love me and lay down His life for me and call me His own. He will meet you with mercy and grace.
Secondly, the people around you are probably not judging you. Chances are they’re hoping someone else sings so they don’t have to do it alone and stand out. So, sing without fear. The sound and the message of the songs on your voice may calm someone else’s fears. There’s power in singing together to encourage each other.
I’ll see you on Sunday morning.
Come sing with CrossPoint and all of heaven.
Written by Nick Taylor
CrossPoint Director of Worship and Art