Worship in Community

Singing Spiritual Songs to God

In Colossians 3 Paul is writing about our transition from death to life and how that affects community life. He reminds the Colossians that what they used to be like encourages them to strive for the fruits of salvation while resisting urges to return to their old life. Among his descriptions of what it means to live in a loving community of believers, he reminds them to “Let the word of Christ dwell in [them] richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [their] hearts to God.”

So often I view music as merely entertainment, something to amuse me. Yet Scripture indicates that there is something about the design of music (and all of the arts in general) that strikes a chord deep within our souls, deep enough to move us.

The arts do move us! Have you ever watched a movie and found yourself near tears only to realize that there is nothing in the scene that warrants tears; merely beautifully, well placed music and a variety of visual “tricks” (i.e. slow motion) that drew an emotional response out of you? I don’t mean to scare anyone, but this makes the manipulative power of the arts tremendous! Does that mean that we should steer clear of the arts or avoid them altogether? By no means! In fact, we should engage the arts with a seriousness and fervor. View this as a blessing to be enjoyed, a tool to be utilized, an experience to be shared!

Consider some of the arts in Scripture.

In Deuteronomy 11, God commands that when his people enter the chosen land they are to divide themselves between two mountains and call out blessings from one and curses from the other. Could they have merely read the words? Of course! But imagine the impact that this artistic approach had on the people hearing the earth shaking rumble of thousands upon thousands of voices calling out God’s laws.

At Jericho, God commands that his people blow the trumpets. Again, God could have merely dropped the wall to the ground, but their participation and experience must have resonated for years. In fact, trumpets were often a tool to energize people during times of war.

At mount Sinai, God speaks like a rumble of thunder through smoke and fire. Exodus 19:16 reads, “…there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast so that all the people in the camp trembled.” In fact, by the end of Exodus 20, the people are begging Moses to talk to God alone so that they don’t have to hear his voice.

Through the prophets, God chooses to speak mainly in poetic stanzas as he voices his emotions in regards to his loved children rejecting him. “…now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.” (Isaiah 42:14) Then, the Psalms allow God’s people to voice their own array of emotions from joy to sorrow and everything in between. In the Gospels Jesus confirms the Psalms as Scripture, inspired through the Holy Spirit. He repeatedly quotes from these poetic musings.

In Revelation we are given a snap shot of heaven which is described as angels and people from every culture, every nationality, every language, from throughout all of time singing a song together!

So, what is my point here? The arts, though they carry dangerous manipulative potential, are intended by God to be used in order for us to deeply experience the fullness of God’s goodness, truth and beauty. Let us not neglect this gift!

With that said, we should be searching ourselves to discover our own artistic bents that God has gifted us with and find a way to be brave enough to serve one another through these unique offerings.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. …be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritualsongs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ

(Ephesians 5:15-21)

Categories: Worship in Community

2 replies »

  1. What a beautiful reminder. Music has been such a gift to me especially walking my journey with depression and currently walking through my grief. Music is sustaining in the midnight hour, literally and figuratively. I have held my artistic gifts back for a while now. This is another recent reminder to share them for the benefit of the body. Thank you for your well-timed words and encouragement.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Job 38:5 Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? Job 38:6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, Job 38:7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

    Liked by 1 person

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