Worship Matters: The Call of the Christian Musician, Part 4
- Monday, November 04, 2002
Last time we saw from Romans 12:1 how Christian musicians are called to present their entire lives as worship, not simply their music. In the very next verse, Paul gives us more insight into that divine call.
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2, ESV).
Every Christian musician has a call to be different from the world. There is supposed to be a difference between musicians who live for this age and those who have tasted of the life to come. But in what ways are we to be different from the world? The Apostle John sheds light on that question.
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world" (1 John 2:15-16, ESV).
Here John identifies the "world" by inner attitudes of the heart-craving fulfillment of our appetites, envying those around us, and boasting in what we own. That way of thinking, and all that accompanies it, is opposed to God and absolutely incompatible with His nature and purposes for us. John draws us a picture in black and white, not shades of gray. What the world values and what is precious to God share no common ground.
That means the way we approach life, the possessions we cherish, the goals we pursue, our responses to change, the way we think about life-relationships, sex, food, travel, success, money, possessions, family, music-it all changes.
For musicians, I believe that distinguishes us from the world in at least four ways.
First, unlike the world, Christian musicians produce art for God's sake rather than for art's sake.
Art for art's sake implies that our ultimate aim in making music is aesthetic appeal, transcendent beauty, or musical preference as determined by the performer. We end up exalting and esteeming music. Success is measured by how well we fulfill our own desire for fascination, awe, or enjoyment in the music we create.
In contrast, Christian musicians make art for God's sake, with the understanding that there is a greater purpose to music than the sounds themselves. Should Christians be striving to make the best music they can? Of course. Is there anything wrong with creativity? Insofar as it's appropriate to the context, certainly not.
For example, a high level of novelty and creativity may be wonderful in a concert, but as an accompaniment to congregational singing it may distract from worship rather than promote it. But Christian musicians understand that music exists for God's glory and is a means of developing and deepening our relationship with Him.
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