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The Thing That Is So Much Greater Than Music

The right focus

I once heard a worship pastor say the first thing we must do to improve our congregation’s singing is to find a great drummer. He went on to insist we should lose the music stands.

I understand he was seeking to help people sing with more focus, emotion and engagement. But when those of us who lead congregational singing rely on music and technology alone to move people, we run the risk of leading people into idolatry. Getting every note in tune, playing every riff perfectly, making sure every lighting cue is on time, and executing every groove flawlessly are worthy goals, but never ends in themselves.

Practice is important. Well-tuned instruments and vocals are important. A band that knows the music is important. Arrangements are important. All of these can contribute to moving people emotionally and help them focus on the truths that we’re singing.

Beyond all other glories

But I fear in our pursuit of musical excellence and proficiency we often miss the purpose of it all. Because nothing is more important than the Savior music can only give homage to.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who left his throne in glory to die in the place of sinners so they could be reconciled to God. The God-Man, who lived, died, rose and now intercedes for us at the Father’s right hand (1 Cor. 15:3-4; Phil. 2:111 Jn. 4:14Gal. 3:13Rev. 3:14Heb. 2:12).

Music can move us. But only Jesus can save us.

As Samuel Rutherford put it so well:

Put the beauty of ten thousand thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden, in one. Put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colours, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness, in one. Oh, what a fair and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less to that fair and dearest Well-beloved, Christ, than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths.

The most important thing

I’m grateful that my daughter has developed her ability to sing. But nothing compares to the joy of seeing this prayer from The Valley of Vision fulfilled in her life:

Grant that I may always weep to the praise of mercy found, and tell to others as long as I live, that thou art a sin-pardoning God, taking up the blasphemer and the ungodly, and washing them from their deepest stain.

May God use our music to affect others deeply. But may we never think being affected by music is a substitute for seeing God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).

Music is great. Jesus is greater.

This article originally appeared here.