Is music a gift to you? Or is it a god?
In "Christian" circles we often hear talk of "idols" in our lives and exhorted to root them out - but it seems we often fall short of actually identify idols and presenting an alternative and/or plan to tear them down and out of our hearts. Thankfully for us though, Bob Kauflin takes the bull by the horns in his post "Music - Gift or God?" and identifies 5 ways that music can be an idol to us. I believe his insight is keen and since music is so powerful and pervasive an influence in our culture (for better or for worse) I definitely commend the following abbreviated version of his post to you:
Music - Gift or God?
Music turns from a gift to a god when we look to it for the joy, comfort, power & satisfaction only God can give. Here are 5 indicators that might be happening.
1. We choose to attend a church or a meeting based on the music rather than the preaching of the gospel and God’s word.
Nowhere in the Bible are we told that the church is to gather around music. We gather around the crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We gather to hear God’s Word in the Spirit’s power. Eph. 2:13-14 says the blood of Christ unites us, not music.
2. We can’t worship in song apart from a particular song, style, leader, or sound.
Anytime I say, I can’t worship unless X happens, or X is present, unless X is the death of our Savior on the cross for our sins or the power of his Spirit, we are engaging in idolatry. At that moment, X is more important to us than God’s command to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. That doesn’t mean that there are no bad songs, lousy leaders, or inappropriate styles. But being discerning is different from being unable to worship God at all.
3. We think music leads us into or brings God’s presence.
Here’s what music can do. It can affect us emotionally. Create a mood. Soften our hearts so that we listen more intently. Help us hear words differently. Distract us from what’s going on. Help us focus on what’s going on. Help us remember words. And more.
Here’s what music can’t do. Make God more present. Bring God’s presence down. Bring us into God’s presence. Manipulate God. (Heb. 10:19-22; 1 Tim. 2:5). There is only one mediator, and it’s not a song, style, leader, or sound. It’s Jesus Christ.
4. Poor musical performance leads us to sin against other band members or the musicians leading us.
We’re hardly representing God’s heart when we get angry, frustrated, or impatient with musicians who don’t play up to our standards. God’s standards are perfection, and they’ve been met in Jesus Christ who lived a perfect life in our place and died as our substitute, enduring the wrath of God in our place. ALL our offerings, no matter how well or poorly offered, are perfected through the once and for all offering of the Savior. We can strive for excellence to serve others, while extending to others the same grace we’ve received.
5. A love for music has replaced a love for the things of God.
It’s possible to listen to music that’s destroying your soul and be completely dull to it. To become enslaved by an idol and you feel like you’re breaking free. In his confessions, Augustine said “For he loves thee too little who loves along with thee anything else that he does not love for thy sake.” I have no doubt we love music. But do we love music for God’s sake or for ours?
To sum up:
Music is useful, but not necessary.
Music is good. But Jesus is better.
Music is a gift, but not a god.
Music isn’t my life. Christ is.
The gifts of God are meant to deepen our relationship with God and create fresh affection for him. Not replace him.
May we enjoy and make music to the fullest of our abilities, all for the glory of the one who gave it to us to enjoy in the first place.
You can download a more expanded copy of my notes here.
Many thanks to Mr. Kauflin for his insight. If you enjoyed his post, I would recommend that you check out the entirety of his original post and his expanded notes.