Song Choice Matters
Sunday Song Choice Matters
Growing up, I loved pop-punk music. The speed combined with the melody just made me want to dance. I’ve always been drawn to catchy, upbeat music so it makes sense that when it came to worship, I leaned toward the charismatic style of songs. I could “stir up deep, deep wells” with the best of them. The passion and energy felt like being at a rock concert.
As the Lord stirred my affections for theology, I began to pay attention to the lyrics I was singing and not just the beat. That’s when everything changed for me. All of a sudden I found myself being drawn to more and more songs that I once would have considered old and stale. I was trading music that stirred my emotions for lyrics that profoundly stirred my affections for God.
The Why Behind Our Worship
Too often we get distracted regarding the “why” behind our worship. We all have preferences regarding musical style. Fast slow, piano only, choir included – whatever your preference or conviction, our purpose in worship is to give glory to the God who saved us.
Music aside, much theology is espoused in our lyrics. Are we singing rightly about God? Conscious of it or not, many people learn about God through song. We have to be careful what we’re teaching them. Kevin DeYoung says, “In corporate worship, we read the Bible, preach the Bible, pray the Bible, sing the Bible, and see the Bible in the sacraments. Every element in the service must be evaluated based on God’s revelation in the Scriptures: are we singing, saying, and hearing what is true?”
Jesus says to the Samaritan woman in John 4:23-24 (ESV), "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” I’ve found that it is often the “truth” of this command that gets forgotten in many of our worship gatherings. Regarding this command, Ligon Duncan helpfully explains:
When we sing things that aren’t true or at best are careless in their wording, we cease to worship in spirit and in truth. When we sing things that are not scriptural, we cease to worship the God of the Bible and begin to worship a false god.
I and Me
The thing that most strikes me with much of charismatic worship (not all) is the focus of self. I am referring to the “I and me” language that is often in charismatic leaning songs. When our purpose is to worship God, we want to praise Him for what He’s done; we want to tell of His power, grandeur, and majesty. We want to sing of the grace and mercy He’s displayed in rescuing helpless sinners by giving His only Son to save them. We want to declare in song the beauty of what God has done and what He is doing.
Sadly in much contemporary and charismatic music, we find lyrics talking about what we do and putting the emphasis on ourselves. Why would we want to do this? Contrast in the Bible how it speaks of humans and how it speaks of God. Humans suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). Humans are dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1). Humans don’t seek God and don’t do good, not even one of us (Romans 3:11-12).
God, on the other hand, is the standard of good and everything He does is good (Psalm 119:68). Everything we have is from God, through God, and to God (Romans 11:36). God is sovereign and does all that He pleases (Daniel 4:34-35). God is rich in mercy and makes us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).
With that picture of God (and much more could be said), why would we want to focus on ourselves at all in worship?
I noticed that when my worship made the shift from “I and me” to singing the glories of God in His character, His power, and His salvation, there was a monumental difference in the joy I felt. We find so much more joy in who God is and what He’s done rather than in what we do or just trying to be good enough to please God. We need to be careful in our song choice not just because God deserves it, but because there’s so much joy to be found in Him.
Cam Hyde is Student Pastor at First Baptist in East Bernstadt, Kentucky. He has an M.Div. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.S. in Communication from the University of the Cumberlands. Cam is married to Rachel, and they have one daughter, Charis. You can find more from Cam at www.camhyde.net