Music … it is the soundtrack to the scrapbook that is life. Some may even argue that music is life. However, some people believe that most of today’s “music” is not appropriate for a worship setting. The Bible itself says that “David danced,” but what genre was he listening to? Maybe it was rock music. If he was alive today, some people might consider him to be a heathen. Although he wasn’t perfect, David was highly favored by God. Did God really care how David praised Him? Are we as Christians supposed to be ridiculing other people’s style of worship?
According to Psalm 150:1-5 there are various ways that we can praise the Lord through music. The Bible says: “Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.”*
While many other verses can be interpreted several ways, this one seems pretty straightforward. Music is a gift from God to God; in other words, God gives us music in order to worship Him. It is a device in which we “the created” can give praise to the Almighty and tell others about “the wonder of His works.”
One size does not fit all
It is my personal belief that life and art are simultaneous; one cannot and does not exist without the other. This particular philosophy has led me to believe that life is a series of moments, “scenes,” and each of us is performing to our own soundtrack. Music is subjective. It is also very personal. So no form of music is really going to resonate with everyone.
As it pertains to the sermon itself, the pastor is no different from the praise team. They are all giving a performance, telling a story, and hoping that it reaches their audience. For example, sometimes we leave church feeling like the sermon was “tailor-made” for us, and other times we feel like the message has no bearing on our life at all. Musicians have a divine calling from God, no different from that of a pastor or a teacher. We all have an audience, a story, and a message, but the artform of music is unparalleled because its reach surpasses lifetimes.
Music allows people to share their own perspectives in pursuit of reaching those with similar views. Col. 3:16 states, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
Ultimately, God does not put restrictions or limitations on our praise and worship experience—we do. It is clear that Scripture tells us to make Him the focus of all things, and when we do that, someone will be touched. However, when we criticize people without knowing their intentions, we often fall victim to the devil’s trap.
Your brother’s keeper
In seventh grade I had an English teacher named Mrs. Warren. She is one of the people who molded me into the man that I am today. Aside from the fact that she was an outstanding teacher, she was an even greater human being because she taught us about love. Every morning as I sat with the other boys for homeroom worship, she’d utter five simple words: “Be your brother’s keeper today.”
Jesus Christ is the personification of love; He embodied what it means to be a brother. He showed us that the Christian walk is a marathon, but no one can tell us at what pace to run. Jesus did not force anyone to follow Him—He simply was, is, and forever will be. Just like music.
* All Bible texts are from the New International Version.
—Yanni Outerbridge is a junior communication major at Union College. He is also a musician with a forthcoming album entitled The Saddest Man on Earth. His home is in Somerset, Bermuda.
Conflict Among Allies
Friendly advice for seeing the light when you disagree about church
Jean Etienne Ramos is an elder at College View Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is also a leader in Campus Ministries at Union College. In these roles, he has encountered numerous difficult conversations among Christians. Recently, we sat down to talk about the challenges that face us.
How do you personally deal with conflict?
I try to avoid conflict. If I see people arguing, I try to mediate the situation.
What are some prevalent issues in the Adventist church today?
I feel there is a huge divide between the youth and the elderly.
Can you elaborate?
The church is an institution; it is very structured. Most young people I know aren’t fond of the way the church is set up right now.
How can we resolve this issue?
We need to realize that this is our church; we need to take ownership of the things we don’t like. The Israelites worked in darkness, but God gave them a pillar of fire. While things might seem dark right now for youth in the church, God will help us see the light.