2013-04-12 - The Fall
I am blessed to have a few youth who have volunteered to lead worship during our Wednesday night youth service so I allow them to pick out a couple songs and I pick a third to tie in with the message. I planned on speaking on the fall of man last night but then I got the songs from the teenager responsible for picking last night's music. I began thinking of why the songs were all wrong but then I realized I hated on her music choice much the way some may hate on my selections of music. Those who like only traditionally music wouldn't care much for most of my picks either. As I questioned myself about questioning these I began to wonder what was wrong with the songs selected. All this thinking about music made me ponder another fall: the fall and rise of music.
I'll start with what might have been the earliest fall of music recorded in Isaiah 14:12 (NASB).
"How you have fallen from heaven,
Some passages and Jewish traditions seem to indicate that Lucifer was the archangel in charge of worship music so the fall of Satan could have been the original fall of music. Music has had its ups and downs ever since.
Ever since the early days of the church, there have been complaints about music in church. Some denominations still don't allow music in church not even piano and organ let alone guitars and drums.
But music is not inherently bad. God created us and he created us with the ability to hear and appreciate music as well as whatever part in us that responds to music. An E sharp is neither good nor evil. The notes don't make the music evil so what does? And what makes it good?
In 1972 Larry Norman asked the question, "Why should the devil have all the good music?" The Jesus music of the late 60's and early 70's pioneered by artists like Norman, Keith Green, and Petra have tried to take rock back but that effort is nothing new. Fanny Crosby often put her lyrics to the tunes of popular songs. William Booth did the same in his day.
So what makes music good? Let's start with a few verses then I want to share four principles that I think can be used to answer what makes music good.
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NASB)
But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 1 Corinthians 8:9 (NASB)
The first one is common sense to me and doesn't come from scripture; you have to like it. It's not good to you if you don't like it. That does make music subjective but that's okay. I grew up listening to both kinds of music: country and western but I love me some hard rock. My wife likes Johann Sebastian Bach's "Moonlight Sonata" played with calming woodwinds but I like Sebastian Bach's "18 and life" on screaming guitars. (For those of you that didn't grow up loving hair bands of the 80's, he was the front-man for a band named Skid Row.)
The second principle comes from Galatians. This is the "reap what you sow" or "garbage in, garbage out" principle. Music is not good if it violates the teachings of scripture. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are often tied together and those aren't good things. So whether it's a country song or rap song encouraging a one night stand, it is not good.
Thirdly, the music should be profitable to you. From 1 Corinthians 6 and 10, good music will build you up. This is not does it sound good but is it good in some quantitative manner? Good music will strengthen your relationship with God, strengthen your relationship with others, or strengthen yourself personally.
Based on 1 Corinthians 8, it can't harm others. For example, I love me some Metallica. I like it, love it, want more of it; S&M, Black, Ride the Lightning are all great sounding CDs. Songs like "Enter Sandman" violate nothing in scripture. Its kind of weird that it starts out wishing a child good night then turns into warnings of nightmares and flips back and for the from these but being weird doesn't violate scripture. And it even charges me up and makes me feel good. But it might hurt my rep as a youth pastor if other Christians knew I listened to a band that used lots of drugs. So while it might slightly improve my street cred with some kids it's more likely to harm the walk of others in their faith. This means I have to analyze the artists and what they represent if I am going to identify with their music.
So to answer if music is good just ask yourself these 4 questions:
Does it sound good?
Does it agree with scripture?
Does it build you up personally or relationally?
Does it build up others who know you?
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted