It was more than 15 years ago when I found my dad’s dusty old acoustic guitar in our attic. I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say that my life changed that day: it’s when I stopped just consuming music and started learning how to create it.
Years passed before I played my first worship song, though. The time between I devoted to covering Dave Matthews Band (to impress girls) and memorizing licks from my favorite Pearl Jam and Radiohead songs (to impress other guys). “Christian” music, to me, was boring. Unoriginal. The best praise songs were just pale imitations of the worst secular pop music.
To clarify: I was a Christian at the same time that I despised contemporary Christian music. I was all for honoring God through song. I just didn’t think God would be that impressed by the three-chord wonders I heard played ad nauseum on campus in college.
These days, though, I’m as likely to listen to David Crowder as I am David Gray. I get as pumped up by Fee as the Foo Fighters, and am more moved by Leeland’s Yes You Have than anything in R.E.M.’s catalog. So what happened to change my perspective?
I stopped measuring the value of music by how much I liked it (or how complex its chord structure was, or whether the guitar sounded too much like something U2’s The Edge had done ten years earlier). I started letting God speak to me through other people’s music.
There’s a great article in the March 2011 edition of Christianity Today called “The Trajectory of Worship”, in which the author suggests that worship music is not so much something man creates to glorify God as something God draws out of man:
“Like most churchgoers, I tend to view worship as something that moves from earth to heaven. We think of worship as something that originates with us, our gift to God…. The biblical portrait of worship moves in the opposite direction. The trajectory of heavenly worship begins with God and descends to earth. This trajectory is reflected in Psalm 150, where praise begins in the heavenly sanctuary and resounds throughout the domain of God. From there it is taken up by those on earth, who praise God with a variety of instruments and dancing, until “everything that has breath” praises the Lord (Ps. 150:6)”.
Last night, fifty or so members of Oasis’ Church’s worship team met together in our sanctuary to cast vision, pray, and focus our efforts for a new year of worship. As I looked around at all the people who devote their time and energy weekly to leading our congregation in praise, it dawned on me how different we all were. We’ve got classically trained singers, heavy metal guitarists, a bluegrass harmonica players, and probably a dozen or more people who don’t sing or play anything, but who are committed to the ministry of worship and serve by running lights and sound, greeting people, and aiding in the daunting task of essentially producing a half-hour concert every week.
The common thread that unites us all? We are worshipers, which is to say that we allow God to draw something from us by which he will be honored and in which others can see his glory here on earth.
You are a worshiper, too. And I challenge you, the next time you sing in church or in the car or the shower, or when you hear a kid singing “the B I B L E, yes that’s the book for me”, to look past the limitations of human musicality and witness God working through music to move his children.
Original post @ ChristianityToday.com: