Should all Christian music be reverent?

By far, one of the most common arguments against Christian rock music is one of its character, mood, or reverence. The assumption that they make is that the only music which is in harmony with Christian worship, or with the character of God, is tranquil, toned down, slow, melodious. The quote below is typical:

"In fact, all that some of the elders and deacons need is the information contained in this study and the three books I will be suggesting for further study to go on the offensive and cleanse the church of those who have turned the house of prayer and praise into a house of confusion, contention and carnality.

Instead of "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" to build up and edify the believer, the brotherhood is beset with a relentless beat (which weighs on one's nerves and pounds in one's head until you feel you will break open) and syncopation (which evokes the most basic sensuous response from our bodies) which is purposely aimed at the physical and sensual instead of the spirit and the spiritual."

My comments

When approaching the subject of reverence for Jesus, it is important to evaluate exactly who he is to you. Do you truly reverence Him? Do you truly love Him? Do you truly know Him - or just of Him? These are important questions, because He is supposed to not only your Savior, but also your closest and best friend. If you are not daily communicating with Him, feel comfortable talking to Him, reading of His life and and deeds - then there is a good chance you are in the relationship with Him for what He can give you - not for Him. You are really cheating yourself of the wonderful experience of having a personal savior and friend that will never leave your side! Don't just enjoy the music that talks about Him, enjoy Him personally!

I have to confess that one of the greatest frustrations of the Christian life is to have this wonderful savior and best friend - and not being able to see Him face to face! In some respects, it is like a "long distance relationship" - we have His words on paper, and some of us are really good at talking to Him, even fewer are good at hearing what He has to say back. Another analogy just about everybody on the Internet can identify with is the phenomenon of finding those few people in the world most like yourself - becoming friends with them - and having no chance of meeting face to face. Sometimes you get as far as talking on the phone and exchanging pictures - it is really joyful to meet them face to face - you finally have a real person to relate to. Those of us who are Christians are waiting for that face to face meeting - with Jesus. And we suffer the same frustration - what is He really like - face to face? We don't even have a picture, He lived on the Earth before photography was invented.

We have the Bible to tell us about His life - but if there is any deficiency there at all - it is in details of His personal life. It's OK, because it was imperative to communicate His mission. But still, don't you wish that just once or twice - you could have a transcript of what went on around the campfire at night with His friends?! With nobody writing it down - how can we possibly know what He was like? We can ask, of course, and some of us have a rare friendship with Him on that basis. But how much of that is shaped by our own desires and personality? Is there any evidence of His personality in the Bible? Did you know there is not even one account of Jesus laughing? Yet we know He must have - what a dreary uninspiring person He would have been without laughter! The maker of all joy - not joyful Himself? Not likely!

What does all this have to do with Christian rock music? One fact that could immediately silence all critics of Christian rock is if Jesus himself put His approval on it! Can we know what types of music Jesus listened to? I believe we can! It IS possible to know one type of music that Jesus himself enjoyed - it is LOUD and JOYFUL, and we even have some of the lyrics!!!!! The date was Palm Sunday, the place was the road into Jerusalem, and there was a great crowd that had come out to meet Him:

"And as He was going, they were spreading their garments in the road, As as He was now approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, saying: "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!". And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." And He answered and said "I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!" --- Luke 19:36-40

Now - I don't think there is much justification here for saying this was not exactly what it was - a loud, enthusiastic, raucous crowd, "partying" as their "King" entered town. Unfortunately - their enthusiasm soon waned as they realized He was not going to overthrow the hated Romans. Within a week, they cried for Barabbas. But - that is not why I quoted this. I think it is safe to say that Jesus enjoyed the experience - and rightly so, knowing that it was probably one of the last joyous experiences He would have in His life on Earth. JESUS PUT HIS APPROVAL ON LOUD, JOYOUS, RAUCAUS MUSIC - no other interpretation is possible!

I think it is interesting that it was the Pharisees who were rubuked, and not the shallow believers. Apparently - worship - no matter how shallow the basis, is more important to Jesus than religious formality and decorum. I have to say - that although the Pharisees as a sect have long since ceased to exist - their negative spirit is alive and well. The church has become a refuge for a certain type of person, who likes to control the behavior of other people. Couching it in scriptural terms, they love to pronounce "God's opinion" - scripturally based or not - on a variety of topics. It is very interesting to me that one particular essay I read - that criticizes rock music as not have the right reverence - also criticizes "long haired men", "miniskirts", and "hippies" (which they misspell as 'hippy'). It sort of dates the essay, if you ask me! I also think it is so typical that they criticize long haired men, and leave out short hair on women (both are criticized in the Bible).

More seriously - this essay and ones like it emphasize certain things that shouldn't be questioned, such as:

This is coming dangerously close to the type of legalism that prompted Jesus to call Pharisees "white washed tombs". You can easily see how they would wish to closely control the type of music people listen to. If they control the leaders who preach, the Bibles that are read, and the music used to worship - they have complete control of the whole church. They have it packaged in their little doctrinal box. The one thing they cannot own, fortunately, is Jesus Christ - who tends to break out of those little boxes FORCEFULLY and humble the proud.

Any other proof about Jesus liking loud, joyful music? Several people in the Old Testament are proto-persons of Jesus. People whose lives and attributes point to attribute of the person of Jesus, providing examples of what to look for in the coming Messiah. No one fits this category better than David. None of these men are perfect, and their comparison with Jesus ends where their fatal flaws begin. In David's case, it was his adulterous affair with Bathsheba - and its consequences. However - David is know as "a man after God's own heart". So incidents in David's life can be used to point to the life and attitudes of God as He would later express Himself as Jesus.

The setting is the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem:

Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castinets, and cymbals. ...... And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might ..... So David and all the house of Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouting and the sound of the trumpet. --- exerpts from 2 Samuel 6:5,14,15.

Interestingly - "Pharisees" come in both genders:

Then as it happened as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart. ..... And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death. --- exerpts from 2 Samuel 6:16,23.

Mark these words carefully - opponents of Christian rock: If you are secretly envious of the fun that the teenagers are having, and aware that worship is not that fun and exciting to you - you cannot attempt to forbid or quench the spirit of worship! If you do - or even speak out as Michal did - you, too will have no "children" (or should I say salvations) in your ministry. It is OVER - God's hand of blessing has departed from your ministry, never to return. Find another line of work.

Do not forget Psalm 150 - written by David.

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