(Disclaimer: The following is in no way directed at our amazing new church or at any past churches. I’m directing this at the American church in general, even though the only people who will likely read it are friends from our present and past churches. 🙂 Thank you for reading–I think I’m “preaching to the choir.”)
I love church. I love the people, the environment, the spirit, the fun. It’s just an incredible place to spend big chunks of your time. Serving God. Worshiping. Loving people. Re-focusing. Supporting and encouraging one another.
It seems that the older our nation gets the more unpopular church is. It’s a trend I understand in some ways. God promised us that this faith would be an unpopular one. It’s kind of remarkable that we have enjoyed so many years of total freedom to worship as we choose with little to no persecution.
And, now, as times change and as the world gets scarier and we read about Christians dying for their faith, we begin to ask ourselves the deeper questions. Would we have the courage to admit we’re Christians when guns are pointed at our heads? Would we be strong enough to encourage our children to stand for Christ, even if we knew it would mean their physical death? Would we, like the martyrs of old, walk into the fire singing His praises, even while others around us denounce their faith and live?
We ask ourselves these painful questions. And, more often than not our spirits swell up within us, and we really FEEL our belief and our trust in God and we say YES. We say yes, we could and would stick with Christ and lose our lives. Yes, we would have God-given courage. Yes, we would give up everything for Him. Yes, we would tell our children that dying for Him is better than living without Him. We would give ourselves away for His glory, whatever it takes, however it happens. We say YES.
And, when we’re done thinking these great and noble thoughts about our faith, we turn our attention back to our daily life and we complain that we simply cannot endure another Sunday of the new worship music. Or we bellyache about the hymns that are dragging down the service. We say that we simply can’t “get anything” out of the songs the teenagers are listening to. Or we claim that we should stay home altogether because the church pianist enjoys playing hymns. And we confirm in all of the doubters’ minds that Christianity is no religion worth giving yourself to. We show the world that our God is not worthy of our love and adoration. We proclaim, in a loud and destructive way, that not only would we not die for this God, we won’t even give up an ounce of comfort for Him.
Church music is the silliest debate I’ve ever been witness to. It’s so prevalent today that there’s a term for it: Worship Wars. Read about what some of the Christians in Africa are facing today and then tell me if it matters what your ratio of hymns to choruses is in church on Sunday.
America, God has blessed you with the freedom to worship and witness, freely and in the open and without any fear whatsoever. And what have you done with that freedom? You’ve been so relaxed, so carefree, and so lazy in your faith that you actually think that music style is a legitimate debate of Christianity.
It makes me sad for the American church. Maybe when we get a little taste of the persecution that our brothers and sisters across oceans are facing, we will realize how silly our debating really is. God gave us music so that we can worship Him in a beautiful, emotional, sweet, and sincere way. It doesn’t matter if we like country music, rock and roll, or just a good old hymn right out of the hymn book, if we sing earnestly, with our whole heart focused on God, we will worship Him. We will show the world that we are unified in adoration of our Father. And, if we ever claim that we simply can’t worship Him due to the rhythm or style of any doctrinally sound song, then that is a problem in our own hearts. And we are wrong.
I love church and I love Christian people. We are a vast and varied group. We have opinions. We have disagreements. And that’s okay. But, before we analyze our willingness to give up our very lives for our great and worthy God, let’s stop and consider how often we are unwilling give up our personal comfort while inside our beautiful, safe, and free churches.
We can sacrifice much more than we think. Let’s start with our strong opinions on music style. Just worship. He is worthy.