Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why Do We Sing? A Case for Christian Worship through Singing

Why do we sing? Why do Christians sing in worship? What is the point? Hardly any other group, or club, or community sings together. I have thought about this lately. I love singing honestly. I have mostly all my adult life loved singing to Jesus through worship. I have lately come across more and more men (and some women) who are a little reticent to sing. It is not their thing, and or they are like most men and don’t care for singing. It seems a case needs to be made for why we as Christians sing. I have thought of fourteen reasons why Christians should sing...

1. The Bible Commands Us to
In Colossians 3:16; and Ephesians 5:18-19 it is pretty clear that the new community of Christ sang and did it in obedience. The early Church sang as a rule, and these passages command us to sing together. 

2. It Reminds of God's word
That same passage in Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” From this passage it is clear that the word of Christ dwelling richly includes admonishing, and singing. How do we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly? First teaching or admonishing and then second singing. Singing is a teaching tool. So as we sing through worship it reminds us of God’s word

3. It is Our Emotional Connection to God
First of all we are commanded to be emotionally connected to God. in Matthew 22:37 Jesus said, “You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” No matter how we spin it love is an emotion. We do make decisions to love, but if you are not emotional about the object of your love, then I would say that love is lacking something integral to a healthy love. It is a total love, a full love, and what Jesus describes here is deeply emotional, and singing helps us stir our emotions.

4. It is a Way to Show Our Affection for Christ 
In the same vein as being emotionally connected, we must foster and fan into flame the fire of affection for Christ. singing to anyone is an affectionate thing. That is why people have sang and written love songs for centuries. That is why we listen to love songs together with our wives, husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends. We love to increase affection, but why when it comes to singing to the creator of the heavens and the earth we suddenly get tongue tied? This should not be. Loose your tongue and sing your affection for Christ! You can’t love Christ too much. You can’t think about him too much, or thank him too much, or depend upon him too much, or sing to him too much. All our righteousness, is in Christ and that should make us rejoice with affectionate singing. 

5. Jesus Did
If Jesus sang then we should. He is our Lord and master. He is our Head worship Leader. You might ask, "wait, he is God what did he sing about?" Did he worship himself? No, he sang as an example to show us that singing is necessary in worship. Of course singing is not all of worship, but like Jesus, he didn't neglect it. Like a healthy diet if you only eat one thing too much, or never eat the healthy stuff you will not be healthy. We need a balanced diet in worship, and Jesus showed us how, he prayed, and he sang with the disciples. “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26). The writer of Hebrews quotes scripture, and writes it as if it were Jesus speaking, "saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”” (Hebrews 2:12) In Romans Paul also writes as if Jesus were the one speaking in the scriptural quote, “For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”” (Romans 15:8-9) So Jesus will and continues to lead worship by glorifying God’s name through singing.

Czig√°ny The Singing Monk
6. Generations of Saints Before us Sang 
If this is true we can join the throngs of saints who have gone before us. Augustine said, “The clouds of heaven thunder out throughout the world that God’s house is being built; and the frogs cry from the marsh, We alone are Christians. What testimonies do I bring forward? That of the Psalter. I bring forward what you sing as one deaf: open your ears; you sing this; you sing with me, and you agree not with me; your tongue sounds what mine does, and yet your heart disagrees with mine. Do you not sing this?” (Exposition of Psalm 96). Tertullian also said about the martyrdom of Perpetua, “Perpetua sang psalms, already treading under foot the head of the Egyptian;” (The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, Schaff’s). Clement of Alexandria also noted the importance of singing, “But let amatory songs be banished far away, and let our songs be hymns to God. Let them praise, it is said, His name in the dance, and let them play to Him on the timbrel and psaltery. And what is the choir which plays? The Spirit will show you: Let His praise be in the congregation (church) of the saints; let them be joyful in their King. And again he adds, The Lord will take pleasure in His people. For temperate harmonies are to be admitted” (The Paedagogus, Book 2, ch.4). Eusebius summarizes Christian worship as "The singing of psalms and recitation of other such words as have been given us from God" (Church History X.iii.3). In Revelation John also has a vision of what will happen before the throne of God in heaven, "And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:8-9) Join the throngs of saints who have come before us and will follow us with singing. 

7. It is a Test of Spirituality Maturity 
People who sing often to Jesus show that they are mature Jesus loving Christians. Those who make excuses not to sing should question why they would make excuses to not worship the one absolutely worthy of being sung to. Jesus said, "He who is forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:47), and so when we do not return love to Jesus in song, it shows the outside world that we think very little of Jesus. Do you love him? Then you will act like a crazy person singing love songs in the shower. Well now wouldn't that would be awkward at Church on Sunday?

8. The Church is One of the Only Places in Culture Where Communal Singing Takes Place
It is a great thing and community building to sing together. Have you ever been to a concert where everyone in the whole audience was singing together every word of the songs? There is an incredible community building component when we sing together. I remember seeing U2 at the Oakland Coliseum. When it came to the time for U2 to play their very popular song “Where the Streets Have No Name," we all shouted the lyrics together! It was exhilarating, it was community, it was the way church ought to be. The one place where regular communal singing takes place is in the church, and we should engage in it for our own sake, and for the sake of the communal experience in giving God glory together. 

9. You Build up the Body of Christ with Encouragement Through Singing
In Ephesians 5:19 Paul writes, “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” In our worship through singing we "address one another" now what could that addressing do for us? It is a form of submission to each other's needs as that passage further points out “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21). So why would we as a body of Christ neglect something that  is so important for "one another." So build each other up through singing. 

10. It is a Missionary Act 
“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!” (Psalms 105:1-2). This passage in psalms shows us how singing is an opportunity to tell people of God's wondrous works, and it is making him known to an unbelieving world. Do you want to be a missionary and make Christ known? Then sing!

11. Singing is a Direct Attack on the Enemy
What does Satan hate more than anything? He hates God, and so it follows that he would hate anything that would give glory to God. Because Satan is ultimately a glory stealer. And so when we sing to God we give him glory, and steal it from Satan. Thus it follows that Satan hates worship through music. And it is also a direct attack on Satan's glory stealing attempts. It is very hard to sin while you are singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Satan would love to see you sin. And as a Christian, I have found it almost impossible to sin when I'm worshiping God through song. Every time in ministry where I have dealt with demonic, or enemy powers in some way, I have asked the rest of the body of Christ to sing, and pray. 

12. Singing is Preparation for and Encouragement During Trials
What did Paul and Silas do during their imprisonment in Ephesus? They sang! “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25) Saints under persecution have sung during imprisonment, torture, and trials and have taken seriously the command to "rejoice in the Lord always.” Richard Wurmbrand the founder of the Voice of the Martyrs and imprisoned in Romanian prisons for 14 years said, "While in jail, we sang. Once the director of the prison entered our cell, furious. 'I was told that you sing subversive songs here. Let me hear one,' he commanded. We sang these moving words: 'O sacred Head now wounded, with grief and shame bowed down...' He listened to the end, then turned and left without saying a word. Later he became a brother in the faith" (Jesus Freaks page 290). The current president of Voice of the Martyrs Tom White recounts his experience in a Cuban prison, "I started singing...I was no longer conscious of the cold, only of Jesus...I had entered the highest level of warfare against the enemy--praise. Psalm 22:3 says that God inhabits our praises...He held my shaking body in His arms. (Jesus Freaks page 259) As the saints before us have done let us sing to prepare ourselves to joyfully endure suffering and trials in the service of Jesus.

13. It Glorifies God 
How many times in the Scriptures are we commanded to sing "to him" or "unto him?” It is one of the most often commanded things throughout the Psalms, Prophets, and even on into the New Testament. It is seen as a one of the most normative act of worship in the New Community of Christ. 

14. You Increase Your Joy
James is clear that singing can and will increase our joy. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.” (James 5:13). Singing is clearly linked to our Christian cheer. So sing and increase your Joy in the Lord, or on the other hand don’t sing and you can stay in your sorrow. Never heard of 'Sorrow of the Lord?' That’s because it isn’t a thing. 

Singing to the Lord is not something that we must resist, but rather submit to for our good and the glory of the Lord. A simple way to apply these truths is to sing joyfully. For instance don't skip the singing times in Sunday services, but go with gladness and focus on Jesus. Another idea is to use Spotify or Pandora as a tool to always fill your heart and mind with the songs of worship. Search for worship artists and create worship channels it's easy. Maybe these songs will soon come out of our mouths too at just the right moments. So Lord fill us with your Spirit that we would respond to you with great Joy in song. No matter how good of a singer you are, we can all sing and shout with a ragged voice because Jesus has saved us. He said, "It is Finished!" SO SING!

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