Certainly it is wonderful when our voices unite in song, but it is more important that our hearts unite. Secular music demonstrates that different types of music stir the souls of different people. Maybe there is someone out there who would not be deeply moved by African hymns (I can't imagine this, but I'm sure it's true).
I have a grandson addicted to hard rock gospel. I am unmoved by this genre, although I can appreciate the words when I can decipher them beneath the screaming instrumentals. To each his own. The important thing is that his soul is stirred and moved closer to God in worship.
I have a special aversion to songs where I feel the message is unclear. I am concerned when a song with a symbolic message from scriptural reference is belted out and I wonder how many people in the congregation are familiar with the spiritual analogy. This includes songs about crossing the Jordan. While most people are familiar with the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan to enter Canaan, I wonder how many know the lyrics referring to the Jordan River are analogous to a faithful crossing from the wandering in life to the promised land of Heaven? I wonder when we belt out "Wade in the Water" whether we understand the idea of God expecting us to faithfully step into the deep counting on Him to stir things up?
Many things are most inspiringly communicated through analogy. I would just beg every Christian to become students of lyrics. If you sing something at church that has a rousing rhythm, but you aren't sure what it means, go study it out in scripture or ask around until you find someone who knows so you can sing with your mind--with undersatnding.
Regarding this Jordan analogy, years ago I wrote a little ditty that I have taught children's Sunday School classes when we study Israel's crossing of the Jordan. At the Red Sea the Israelites walked across on dry ground to commence a 40 year wandering in the desert (Exodus 14:21, 22). At the end of that journey on the banks of the flood swollen Jordan, God told them to step into the water before he opened a path for them (Joshua 3:15). Here are the words to that little ditty:
Ya gotta launch out on faith
Ya gotta get your feet wet
Ya gotta trust God to do
What he hasn't done yet
So put your faith in him
Step into the swollen deep
Before the Lord will part your waters
Let him see that you believe.
These word would be meaningless, no matter how catchy the tune, if this wonderful story of the Israelites journey from fear at the banks of the Red Sea to faith at the banks of the Jordan were unfamiliar. Don't settle for singing with your vocal chords alone! Engage your mind!
Linda Brumley is the author of the book My Beggar's Purse and Other Spiritual Thoughts, and a blog of the same name. This article was originally published at http://mybeggarspurse.blogspot.com/.
Linda Brumley, along with her husband, Ron, has served in the ministry in San Diego, Chicago, Denver and Seattle. She is currently a women’s ministry leader in the Seattle Church of Christ. Her greatest joy in life is friends and family (four children and ten grandchildren). Because she feels so blessed to have learned from older women in her life, she hopes to offer that same blessing to young women that God enables her to influence for him.