“Glory is his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. “ 1 Chronicles 16:10
Holy God when I seek to worship you through song today help me to distinguish between music that elevates You rather than me. I want to lift up my voice in celebration of You – your glory and majesty and power. Amen
Last year my husband and I were attending a church that had an excellent teaching pastor. However, for various reasons we decided to keep looking for a church that fit more of our needs. We had become friends with the pastor so I felt the need to talk with him about why this church just didn’t seem like the right place to call “home.” Way down on my list was the music. It wasn’t a gamechanger but I included it just for feedback. My comment was that I was sure, because I’ve heard some before, there was music to be sung written after the 1800s. He agreed and replied, “Yes, but I don’t like the ”Jesus Is My Boyfriend” music either.
Music has always played a role in the world’s religions – whether hummed, chanted, drummed, or played in an arena like a rock band. But no other religion finds itself with a songbook as large, widespread and popular as Christianity. We have songs to celebrate the life of Jesus, to thank the Lord for rescuing us, songs to remind us of the pain Jesus suffered for us, songs to inspire us to trust in the Lord and songs to glorify God. And it’s important to pay attention to when we fall into the trap of honoring the work we do rather than the work God does. We also don’t want to reduce Jesus to our “buddy” or as the pastor said, our boyfriend.
"Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!" Psalm 105:2
This got me thinking about the different types of Christian music and when we should be singing ones that are written solely for the purpose of glorifying God. Now some of you might be thinking, “if it’s Christian music, doesn’t it all do that?” If that’s your initial thought I’d like to challenge you to listen to the words of the favorite songs you hear on the radio, and maybe even in your church. Are the lyrics really about you or about God’s glory, holiness, power and authority? Here’s a popular song by Phil Wickham that I have in my Christian playlist:
"I searched through the Earth for something that could satisfy A peace for the hurt I had buried deep inside Knees on the floor, I finally found everything I needed You lifted my soul and opened up my eyes I never knew anything lasts forever Till I found You, till I found You I never dreamed anything could be better Till I found You, till I found You You're rewriting my story And I'm brand new like a morning Oh, I never knew anything lasts forever Till I found You Till I, till I found You"
In just these few lines the word “I” or “my” is repeated 16 times. So who are we really singing about here? This song is perfect for expressing to the world how we were changed by our faith. But it is not really a song glorifying God.
When my youngest was a teenager, she thought it funny when she would play a song in the car that had cuss words in it. She wanted to see my reaction. She didn’t think a few bad words here and there were important. “It’s just a song,” she once said. We are challenged, as Christians to watch everything that leaves our mouths, even songs. What we have running on repeat in our head reflects where our heart lies. When we come into worship are we singing about ourselves or our savior?
When I selected the music for my wedding, I took care in the messages I wanted to send to my guests about this beautiful union. Today, when I think of a song to sing glorifying God I want to take the same care. To focus on Him, not me.
Here’s a few modern songs that glorify God. Do you have a favorite song that glorifies God? Add it in the comments!
Only A God by City Alight
Holy, Holy, Holy (various artists)
Worthy of It All by CeCe Winans
Ancient of Days by City Alight
Revelation Song by Kari Jobe
Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) by Michael W. Smith
What A Beautiful Name by Hillsong Worship & Brooke Ligertwood