[CF Devotionals] 2008-09-23 - Shades of Gray

Part 1

Some decisions are non-negotiable, and actually "black and white." For example, there is never any justification for adultery or theft; they are simply against God's laws and will. Other issues are simply a matter of prefence. In this devotional, we begin a series on “Shades of Gray,” issues about which the Bible doesn’t give us explicit instructions – and which are sometimes controversial.

In our first installment, we'll think about music in the church. I don’t know if there is a more divisive subject in congregations, than music. Sometimes it seems to me that music can bring out more heated debate than theological issues. It can take a decade to decide whether to approve a “new” hymnbook.

For certain, music is an important element of a worship service. So important, in fact, that in the Psalmist David appointed 288 men to serve as musicians in the Temple. And Ephesians 5:19 reminds us that we should "speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord."

So it’s a given that music is an integral element for most worship. But should churches sing “contemporary” music, traditional or a mix? And what instruments – if any - should be utilized?

Some denominations prefer a capella singing, with no music at all, believing that is the most pure way to worship. Other congregations employ full-fledged orchestras that take advantage of all manner of instruments – and most fall somewhere in between the two extremes.

But what does the Bible itself actually say about music? Regarding instruments, “anything goes.” In Psalm 150, the instruments run the gamut, from horns to strings to percussion, and dance is included as well.

Psa 150:3-5 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, 4 praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, 5 praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals (NIV)

As for whether a song is “traditional” or contemporary, that’s a matter of opinion and era. For example, the score of “Amazing Grace,” which people think of as “traditional” today – began its life as a tune sung (with different words) in bars. There is no “good music” or “bad music.” Music - the scoring - is what we make of it - no more, no less. Some of you know that in its infancy, jazz was considered by some to be from satan himself, whereas now it is considered among the more wholesome and respected types of music.And the quaint dance the "jitterbug" was scandalous in some circles, but now it's associated with "the good old days." Some people judge "praise music" as being "too contemporary" and "self-involved," in spite of the fact that much of it is based on the Psalms. In the church, as elsewhere, music falls into the category of “gray” issues that are matters of preference, decided by our God-given conscience, as with matters of celebrating days (or not) or eating meat (or not). As Paul said in Romans 14, on nonessential matters, we have free choice: “Each person must be convinced in his own mind.”

Series to be continued.

Comments or Questions,

[email jan] cfdevcfpray@yahoo.com