Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Emotive Singing+Music in Worship

Is it not a beautiful thing when our emotions are stirred and affections awakened by the wonderful things in God's character, His divine plan, and His free and unconditional Gospel?
Why then, as evangelicals do we often feel anxious when either these affections awaken them in us or show themselves in others during music in worship? Surely the act of telling God in such a creative way is primarily about stirring and warming our hearts in joy and love as appropriate responses to His character, plan, and Gospel? -Or at least Jonathan Edwards believed so when he said:

'And the duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned why we should express ourselves to God in verse rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only that such is our nature and frame that these things have a tendency to move our affections.' [Religious Affections - emphasis mine.]


Note, as John Piper writes, 'it is the affections that make worship authentic.' When we place our boundaries in our times of music so tightly so that they engulth emotional reaction to the music, which stirs our hearts to be in a place where we can turn the truths of God we are singing about into praise - we are enguthing the authenticity of our worship to God. Of course we must be careful not to get over-emotional in ways which stir emotions as an end in themselves, this is dangerous and at worse idolatry. Yet we must allow our emotions to be stirred within music, and poetry, so that we can be in a better context emotionally to receive and respond to the beautiful truths in God's word. -The same principle was applied by the puritans in preaching, they would use the most emotive language and imagery to open or create a 'wound' if you will, then they would fill that wound with Biblical substance.

Lets not be a people that honours God with our lips but our hearts be far from Him (Mtt. 15:8), let us long after and desire to be 'true worshippers [who]...worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him' (Jn. 4:23).

Think and meditate upon those biblical giants and their hearts emotional response to their God. Think on David who comes to God with a 'broken and contrite spirit,' (Ps. 51), or Paul as he 'rejoices with great joy' (Phil. 4:10), or upon Christ himself as he is 'filled with anger and grief' (Mark 3:5) or His earnest desire to gather his people as a mother hen, her chicks (Lk. 13:34). - I'm sure you can think of many times throughout scripture the correct response to God is one that is immersed in and emerges from an emotional and affectionate stirring of ones heart. Perhaps you can recall in your own experience, the times where you have felt the greatest faith in God as the times where your emotions have been situationally stirred to call out to him in utter dependence, or great joy and thankfulness.

Lets allow our stony dispositions and occasional harness be rocked and melted by music and singing in worship, so we can appropriately respond to our Father in an affectionate, and praising way. To Him be all the glory! Amen

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