It’s one of the oldest battles in the history of the church. Back in the old days, there were people who didn’t want any music in the church. Now, people just want their music in the church. If there’s one thing that church people just can’t seem to get together on it’s music.
Usually this battle plays itself out amongst two sides. The Trendies and they Traditionalists.
The Trendies don’t want to sing anything older than January of 2015. Some of their music is upbeat. Some is somber. But it’s all, well, quite trendy. Take the words out and you could easily imagine hearing one of the Trendies’ songs on a Top 40 station. Sometimes the songs that the Trendies sing at church come directly from a Top 40 station.
“This morning’s call to worship will be performed by Ariana Grande and Ryan Seacrest will be leading us in the opening prayer.”
On the other side, there are the Traditionalists. For many of them, any song newer than 1981was written in hell. They can’t understand the fascination with fancy screens when hymn books are so much easier, cheaper and, well, more traditional. The music at the traditionalist church also sounds like it could be played on a Top 40 station. If they had Top 40 radio stations in 1781.
Members from both sides have been battling each other for quite some time. Both claim to have the market cornered on the style of music that Jesus would prefer were he to ever show up at their church one Sunday morning. But both sides are guilty of forgetting something very important about their brand of worship.
There is a strong chance that Jesus, the one you’re allegedly singing to and about, hates it.
His hatred has nothing to do with the drums being too loud or the songs not being relevant enough. The cause of his hate can be found every Sunday morning. You can see it in old school cathedrals with huge pipe organs as well as in trendy gatherings with Grammy Award winning worship leaders.
Your favorite song or modern worship anthem may hold a special place in your heart. But if that special place in your heart is right next to the special place where you harbor resentment, bitterness and hate toward your neighbor, God doesn’t care to hear your worship.
Jesus hates your traditional hymns.
And your modern worship makes him sick.
Jesus has no interest in your worship songs if they’re being sung by people who are disobeying his command to love their neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40).
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV)
More than Amazing Grace or whatever your favorite hip new worship song is, there are times when Jesus would much rather hear us say to one another, “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.” If we’re not prepared to sing that song, we should stop singing all together. To the best of our ability, we should make things right with those who we have wronged and with those who have sinned against us. And then we should come back and sing to the God who has forgiven us of our greater sins.
There is no amount of tradition or trendiness that can make up for the absence of God’s power in a church. No matter how good your music is, don’t count on seeing God work in a significant way if that music is being sung by a bunch of people who hate each other.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:23-24 (ESV)