Worship Matters: The Call of the Christian Musician, Part 2
- Bob Kauflin Pastor, Director of Sovereign Grace Music
- 2002 22 Oct
We've just begun a series on the Call of the Christian Musician. We'll be looking at Romans 12:1-8, which is addressed to all Christians, and applying it specifically to musicians who desire to live in a way that glorifies God.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Ro 12:1, ESV).
The first thing we see is that our call is based on the gospel, which Paul refers to here as "the mercies of God." Do you sense the urgency and authority in his request? This is something we must not miss. In the previous chapter, Paul has mentioned God's mercy four times. He has spent the first 11 chapters of the book defining, extolling and magnifying God's mercies. Whatever we do in life, it is to flow from an understanding and experience of God's mercy to us through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
This means there is no such thing as "a musician who happens to be a Christian." No one is a musician first, and a Christian second. God doesn't give us that option.
Of course, it's perfectly legitimate for a Christian musician, depending on the context in which one exercise his or her gifts, not to play music composed by Christians, or not to be involved with music that has plain references to salvation or the cross. But we can never state that our Christianity takes a back seat to our musicianship. To do so may be denying that we're Christians at all.
In his challenging little book, Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts, Steve Turner writes:
"I sometimes hear Christians justify mentioning their weaknesses in their art because 'I'm a sinner like everyone else.' That is just not true. The Christian isn't a sinner like everyone else because a Christian is a forgiven sinner, and this alters his or her whole relationship to sin."
Basically, the cross changes everything. The gospel redefines our priorities, redirects our passions, and reshapes our worldview. We now live our entire lives in view of God's mercies.
Are you aware of His mercies? Do you wake up each day, grateful for the fact that you can breathe, that you can think, that you can see color, that you can smell different scents, distinguish different sounds? Are you aware that you're doing far, far better than you deserve because your sins are forgiven and you have been redeemed by the perfect blood of the Son of God?
Recently, when a cashier asked how I was doing, I answered, "Better than I deserve" (a response I learned from my senior pastor, C.J. Mahaney.) He seemed surprised and pressed me for clarification. I told him that the fact that my sins were forgiven was more important than any trial or difficulty I might be facing. He disagreed. But he was wrong.
I may have been a musician long before I was a Christian, but God's choosing me in Christ long preceded my decision to become a musician.
As musicians, our greatest need is not the study of music, but the study of the gospel, because the cross must motivate, define, and give direction to the way we use our music.
Every Christian musician must be able to give an affirmative answer to the question, "Do you love the gospel more than music?" There is no other way to be sure that our call is rooted and grounded in the cross of Jesus Christ.
This column's content is derived from a message that Bob gave at Sovereign Grace's "A Passion for the Glory of God" worship conference this past August. You can order the tape or CD from Sovereign Grace's online store.
Bob's outline for "The Call of the Christian Musician" is available for downloading on the Sovereign Grace online store.