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For those of us who have grown up in church, singing before and after a sermon is perfectly normal. In fact, it’s expected. However, when I invite unchurched friends to a Sunday morning service, I take in the experience through their eyes and suddenly everything seems unusual – especially the singing part.
We use a language that is foreign to the world. Sure, we try to make church “relevant” to a wide range of cultures, but the Bible, though written thousands of years ago, is applicable to each generation. It’s real, it’s raw, it breaks, and then it mends. And this is (or at least should be) the foundation for the songs we sing. There is power in the living and active Word of God that is not dependent on the reader in order to take effect. Sounds unnatural because it is. And this is liberating!
So when I’m tempted to feel apologetic for what’s abnormal to some or to simply slip into Sunday morning routine, I have to remind myself these are distractions from the enemy and go back to the WHY. Perhaps listening to a sermon is normal enough, but why do we sing? It’s not extensive, but here are some reasons I cling to when singing seems perfunctory.
We sing because we are at war
Every week it’s a miracle we make it to church. The family fights and personal excuses/exhaustion that threaten to keep us away from corporate worship are no coincidence. There is a spiritual battle that wages even during the walk from the parking lot to the front door. Something supernatural happens when the church gathers, and I believe our singing drowns out the threats of the enemy. It quiets and realigns our hearts to prepare for, receive and respond to the Word of God.
There’s a very good reason Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, put the “worship leaders” on the frontlines in their battle against three nations (Spoiler alert: the nations turned against themselves and were defeated. More on that in 2 Chronicles 20).
We sing because we’re commanded to
Over and over again in Scripture, we’re told to “sing to the Lord.” He commands us to sing to Him, not because He is needy, but because He is worthy (Revelation 4:11). Worship is in our DNA, and we have been given the right of passage through Christ to enter the throne room to worship the King who holds the highest place of honor. When we behold Him, we are changed. And God blesses this obedience. He’s promised that when we seek Him, we will find Him.
We sing because we forget
Or to put it in the positive, we sing to remember. Psalm 126:3 says, “The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Recounting the great things that God has done – namely providing the gift of Salvation – takes the spotlight off our disappointments and stresses, and not only refreshes our souls with joy, but brings glory to the Giver.
We sing to realign our focus
Similar to the previous point but a little more specific, I remember someone telling me to not think about pink elephants. I instantly and unintentionally violated my instructions. Why? Because it was strange and fresh in my mind. However, when this person began to describe a beautiful garden in great detail, I quickly forgot about pink elephants and let my mind explore and even rest in a mental paradise. All throughout the day, thousands of thoughts cross our minds – unanswered questions, unfinished tasks, uncomfortable conversations — but this sacred time of worshipping together is our chance to replace those thoughts, by the aid of those singing around us, with the beauty of knowing Christ. Earlier in that same story from 2 Chronicles, Jehoshaphat says to the Lord, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”
We sing to unite
No two minds think exactly alike. But when we sing songs of truth, somehow we fill a room with dozens up to thousands of people – and find something we agree upon. This comes back to the value of singing biblical songs. Songwriters who have gone before us have given us a language to sing in unison (literally, as one – united). How often do we go to pray and wonder where to start? Music puts the words in our mouths that we don’t always know to speak.
We sing because we’re broken
“You shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Have you ever stopped and thought about the name Jesus? Mary and Joseph could have been instructed to name the Messiah anything. But Jesus — Deliverer – what comfort this name brings! Sin has broken our world, and the power of the One who bears this name – JESUS – brings the refreshment and healing our weary souls need.
Grace Coleman is the Director of Music at New Life Baptist Church. If you’re a worship leader interested in getting involved with Village Hymns, please email [email protected] or visit our website at villagehymns.com.
Read more articles by Grace Coleman at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/grace-coleman/