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can you find Jesus in rock music?

March 26, 2008

The other day I heard someone say, “I could never go to that church because they sing that disrespectful rock music.” I just nodded and bit my tongue. But my thought was, “disrespectful to who? God? Or you?”

If there is a verse somewhere in the Bible specifying which kind of worship music God prefers, I am certainly not aware of it. But I do know this – Jesus did not come here to do things the way the religious leaders thought he should. He broke the rules. He turned his back on all the snickering and gossiping that was going on – the “oh no, he’s eating with sinners” comments, and instead went out and met people where there they needed him.

The same people that can’t tolerate the music also have a problem with the way we dress. “It’s God’s house. You need to wear your Sunday best to respect the Lord.” So does that mean we only have to respect the Lord on Sunday? Does that mean God isn’t with us after church when we go back home and throw on our jeans?

Traditional methods in traditional churches are great for pleasing traditional people. But what about the people who didn’t grow up in church? What about the other 99% of the world? Our fancy dressing, sleepy piano music churches will NEVER reach those people. There may as well be a locked gate at the front steps with a huge sign that reads “YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE”.

What is it that matters in a church? Is it the music? Is it the clothing, or the order of the service, or the Sunday school, or the Christmas program, or the children’s choir? NO! People are what matter. People who don’t know Christ. People who need to hear that there is a God who loves them when they are at their worst, not just when they are at their best.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. brumbemom permalink
    March 26, 2008 8:06 am

    Kendra, I have been working on a post about that same issue. I have been a little hesitant to post it out of fear that it might offend someone. Thanks for giving me a boost. I will definitely get it wrapped up soon and post it. It I get any backlash, I will tell them that you inspired it 😉
    Thanks.

  2. yoopea permalink
    March 26, 2008 10:51 am

    Forgive my lengthy answer 🙂

    This is always an interesting question, as the type of music one should listen to is not directly addressed in Scripture. However, here are a couple verses for you to consider:

    “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) In other words, we are called to be separate from the world. This does not mean that we need always sing old hymns in every service, but if we are no different from the world, what reason would one have to join us in our worship of the King? People will reject the Word of God no matter what, so they might as well know exactly what they are getting themselves into, and not be given a watered down version of the Gospel (the very foundation of Christianity).

    Paul goes one step further: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Not only are we to avoid worldliness, we are to dwell solely on good things. Often times, Christians try to figure out what is not wrong, instead of asking what the very best thing God has for us is. And let me tell you, nothing that is of God is mediocre. If you hear ‘rock’ songs, and the lyrics sound like they were scribbled on a piece of paper right before they got there, I would encourage you to avoid those artists. On the other hand, if it is clear they are continually inspired by Scripture, you know that what you are singing is biblical, and that is a blessing.

    Let me make something clear also. I believe that as long as the lyrics are accurate according to the Word of God, you can worship Him, no matter the type of music backing it up. But do not settle for less simply to appeal to people “who did not grow up in the church”! True seekers will find Jesus Christ, regardless of what music is played. And I might also add that the reason many hymns have endured over the years is that the words are powerful, and truly express the deep adoration Christians have of the power and majesty of our Lord! If you’ve ever listened to hymns such as Be Thou My Vision, Amazing Grace, and A Mighty Fortress is Our God, you know that the true essence of Christianity is present throughout.

    And you are very right! Church is an important part of telling people about the glory of the Truth! However, an equally- and at times, more- important aspect of the Church is to strengthen Christians! So clothing is important, as there are many warnings in the Bible as to what type of clothing one shouldn’t wear, specifically women. Pastors should be building up the Church (the Body of Christ: Christians) by correcting them when they are wrong, and providing the BEST form of worship possible, despite the time period in which it was written.

    The apostles did not take the message of the Gospel to the peoples by staying in one place, learning about the people, and then changing it according to what their tastes were: they simply spoke of the Truth! Witnessing is simply presenting the Word (which is, in fact, God Himself and a revelation of His nature), and offering yourself as an example of the the new life Jesus Christ has given you!

  3. scrabblenut permalink*
    March 26, 2008 12:01 pm

    I absolutely, wholeheartedly agree. But somewhere along the way people got the idea that suit + piano = holy, and jeans + rock music = sinful, and that attitude is driving people away from the churches in hoards.

    Under no circumstances would I condone changing the message of the gospel to suit an audience. Jesus reached the woman at the well with a conversation about water. He called the disciples using fishing analogies. He used parables to help simple-minded people understand the Kingdom of God! Throughout scripture, Jesus reached people where they were. The church is never going to reach people of this generation with music that puts them to sleep and words they can’t understand.

    And as to the issue of dress – it matters to a degree. If a woman puts on a revealing shirt or dress to attract attention to herself, there is a problem – a problem in her heart that needs to be addressed. A man in a swanky suit can be just as guilty of the same sin. It is a matter of heart. Putting on a suit and singing a hymn does not make one holy. I love these verses from Matthew 23:
    13″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

    25″Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

    And don’t get me wrong… I love hymns. I grew up in traditional churches and there is still a soft spot in my heart for those old songs. In fact, my favorite song at our church is an updated version of Jesus Paid it All.

  4. March 31, 2008 11:46 am

    Man, you like to stir the pot! Good words! Keep it up.

  5. scrabblenut permalink*
    March 31, 2008 12:35 pm

    I don’t TRY to stir the pot, but sometimes it is unavoidable. 🙂

  6. April 4, 2008 10:56 pm

    Good post! I’ve grown up in church, and I’ve attended neat ones, and not so neat ones. I remember once as a teenager, I had on blue-toe-nail polish (back when that was cool), and this woman decided it was her duty to say something about it… I guess she thought blue toes were not pleasing to God.

    I could get off on a tangent here, but I will resist the urge, and say that one of the best quotes I have heard recently is something John Piper said. It was something like, “To many people try to look at God through a microscope instead of a telescope; a microscope takes tiny things and makes them more clear, a telescope takes things that are huge, and reveals their details more clearly.”

    I have a feeling that if we were all going to church on Sunday with a Telescope mentality, we wouldn’t be so concerned with the tempo of the music, or the fact that we thought someone’s skirt really should be two inches longer. We’d be to busy worshiping the creator of the Universe, to diligently combing the scriptures as we listened to the pastor, weighing his words against what God has written, eagerly anticipating being able to see more of our Savior.

    Personally, I have to say that I love Christians. Mostly because they are God’s children, and we are commanded to love one another. But in my many, many years of being in church, I have certainly met my share of people who meet the world’s stereotype of judgmental, self-righteous busy-bodies.

    It makes me really sad to see that church is very often the place we are most on-guard. It should be the one place where ANYONE can run, to grasp hold of love and hope and support in times of trouble and pain. And the place we most desire to be when we have rejoicing to do.

    Please keep questioning! Maybe our generation will be able to right some of the wrongs we’ve noticed since we were tiny. Maybe we will trade microscopes for telescopes, and maybe we will get better at understanding love.

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