Truthfully, I had a long blog post typed up just now. I was going to talk about the emotional effects of music and how that affects a congregation at church. I was going to talk about “worship experiences” and the dangers of thinking that music “ushers you into God’s presence”.
But I’m going to scratch all that and just say this: Music is not your mediator. If you are in Christ, then you are always in God’s presence. You don’t need music and you don’t need worship leaders to bring God to you or to bring you before God. Whether or not you are “feeling” the music at any particular point doesn’t make any difference in terms of being in God’s presence. (If it did, what would it mean that you weren’t “feeling it” during a particular service? Would that mean that God wasn’t present? And then what implications would that have….??) I think so many times we rely on a “emotional feeling” to evaluate whether or not we have had a good time of praise and worship or not. And I don’t believe it should be based on that.
**Note – I’m not suggesting that God doesn’t manifest himself in unusual ways sometimes. He does.
This weekend at Visio Dei the “band” will consist of just an acoustic guitar and a cello. The music won’t be super loud and it won’t be super high energy. Not like we usually have. Truthfully, I am expecting that at least a few people will tell me that they really missed the band and that it was hard to connect with such a minimal setup. People say things like “I really just didn’t ‘feel’ it like I sometimes do”.
I would just say this: intense musical experiences are emotional. It’s meant to be like that. I think that’s a good thing and I get that as much as anyone.
But first and foremost, I don’t want you to be wrapped up in a musical experience. (you can get wrapped up in the music at a Coldplay show…) I want you to be wrapped up in worshiping our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The songs we sing contain truth. Truth about God and truth about our salvation through the gospel. And so we sing those things to worship God and to encourage one another.
All of us are tempted to value “emotional experience’ over truly worshiping God. That can lead to all kinds of problems.
It can make us believe that intense emotions equal an encounter with God. And they don’t.
It can mean feeling disappointed when we aren’t emotionally affected during times of worship. And we shouldn’t be.
If we get more excited about intense musical experiences than we do about the fact that Jesus came to die for our sins and rise again to new life to reconcile us to God then we really are focusing on the wrong things. So the problem with focusing too much on the music and thereby letting your feelings on the time of worship be dictated principally by emotion is that your focus is in the wrong spot.
This weekend at Visio Dei we will have praise and worship like we normally do. But know that our goal is not to impress you with our musical expertise or trick you into getting wrapped up into an emotional musical experience. It’s to serve the church by providing an opportunity to worship God and encourage each other through song.
Opportunities like this really excite me. I am as prone as anyone to “getting into the music” and forgetting about worshiping God. Sometimes it helps to refocus 🙂