IIIM Magazine Online, Volume 3, Number 46, November 12 to November 18, 2001

Music Matters Show 1

by Robert Barnes

Originally aired Monday at 5:50 P.M. on WTLN 950 AM in Orlando, Florida, Music Matters is a weekly radio show that explores the nature of and antidote for the worship wars that exist in the church.

Layperson, do the musicians in your church drive you crazy? Musicians, they make a piano tuner, but have you ever wanted to adjust the sour attitude of your congregation? I'm Robert Barnes, and let's discuss the nature of music in the local church on today's Music Matters.

How long have you been a Christian? Perhaps you were raised in a Covenant family, and have always known and loved Christ. Perhaps you were dramatically converted just this year. But if you've been a member of a church you know that some of the biggest conflicts in the body of Christ are, at least on the surface, over musical styles. The young people want music that matches their lifestyle: Loud, honest, talking about our feelings, our families, our jobs. The older folks often want music that reflects their values as well: Music with dignity, that talks about God and a Cross and a Hill far away.

I am about to give you the solution to this tension. If you are just half-listening at this point, pay attention! Put down your cell phone and turn up the radio! Even better: Call your pastor on the cell phone and hold it close to the speakers. I promise you this will be worth the price of admission. Here is the solution to conflicts over music in the local church.

It is found in Philippians 2:3, which says: "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself." Stop being a selfish brat of a sheep and start caring more about others and less about yourself. This unselfish attitude, more than having a certain music style played at your church, is a mark of Christian maturity. No musician can play a song that will cause people to grow up and stop being spiritual babies about musical preferences. There is no musical answer to personal discord in the local church.

But there is a Gospel answer. God has called us to repent and believe the good news, that the Kingdom has come, and that Jew and Gentile, young and old, have been made one in Christ. That means that in the church, the Holy Rollers and the Rock n' Rollers and the Wheelchair Rollers are to be worshiping side by side, by the power of the grace of God.

Most people, even some Christians, think that everything is relative, and that includes art, particularly music. Is musical style just a matter of taste? Is some music more godly or spiritual than others are?

There is a standard of beauty. His name is Yahweh. He is the most beautiful being in the universe. The problem is we can't see him! He's up in heaven, and until he calls us home, we will not see Him as He is.

So while there is a standard of beauty, we see it through a glass darkly. Our vision is blurred because of the curse on creation and our personal sin. The Bible does talk generally about what God thinks about the integration of art and worship, but He left out a detailed directory of worship. Instead, He gave us broad principles to regulate our corporate and private worship of Him. We'll unpack what those are in the coming weeks.

This week we learned that the first step in resolving musical discord in the church is to repent of selfishness. But that only gets us so far—we still don't know what is revealed in the Bible and the natural world about God's beauty and if that can give Christians a helpful standard by which to judge the excellence of music. You are going to have to come back next week to find out. So put off firing your worship director for one more week and worship directors, don't go on strike.

Tune in next week and find out why Music Matters to God.