For some people, singing feels like a natural, normal and vital part of their church life. A woman at our church comes early every week to listen to the band practice. She almost runs up to church 45 minutes early.
For others, it is drag, a three minute break before the Bible teaching, or a short torture, we, or those around us, we think, endure while we wait for morning tea or supper. Others have changed. They used to hate it and now through perseverance and changed attitude, they love it.
We must remember that even atheists, like Richard Dawkins, are on record saying that they enjoy singing Christmas Carols every year, and not the ones about snowy wintery days, but the songs about Jesus. He calls himself a cultural anglican, but what about us? What difference does the gospel make to how we sing?
Those who belong to Christ are a thankful people, submitting to his authority and expressing our unity and peace in our life together.
“And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
As we sing, three very important dimensions come together. All are found in the same verse, and not one of them is about performance, nor do any of them only apply to the music team. In fact, the whole church is the music team.
“Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16)
1. God to us: As you sing, let the word of Christ dwell among you richly.
Even singing is God’s work of implanting Jesus’ word into us, his people. We often forget this truth, but the things we sing about, shape us and form us. We let his word rule and live in our songs. Therefore great care must be taken with the songs we sing. The words should be from the Bible or explaining the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t engage in private discussions during songs any more than we would durning the Bible reading or prayers if we see this truth.
2. Each to the other: As we sing, teach and admonish each other in all wisdom with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.
The songs are also a chance for us to teach each other the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can spur each other through the songs, rallying the downcast, refocusing the wandering and teaching the new Christian about the basics. Together we learn and teach each other to rejoice in the Lord, whatever the circumstances.
3. Us to God. We sing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
The primary person we sing to is God. This has throughout the Bible always been the case, from the first songs of Moses to the songs around God’s throne at the present time (Exodus 15:1; Revelation 4:9-11; 5:13). People talk about winning Britain’s Got Talent so that they can perform in front of the Queen, but we sing every week to our creator, redeemer, judge and friend. It is more about God than about us, which makes it less of a performance. “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalm 100:2)
As you sing: Will you let the word of Christ dwell in you? How can you use these moments to teach and encourage each other even more? When you sing, are you singing to God?
The same three dimensions are also in this other verse. Can you see them?
And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord … (Ephesians 5:18-19)
(for more of my thoughts, see “I = “I” IN PSALMS AND SONGS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT”)