Monday August 23, 2013
One thing that I have discovered later in life that I wish had been more clear to me in my first twenty years of life is that there are two kingdoms on planet earth that are in fairly non stop and violent opposition to each other; and every person on the planet is born into one of them and never escapes being its slave (see Jn. 8:34) until Jesus Christ rescues him or her from its chains and then places them in His kingdom (Col. 1:13);….. and that one of the mediums that fuels both of these kingdoms is music.
I didn’t journal in my first 19 years, so I don’t clearly remember when I began to listen to music and sing along with it on a daily basis…. But it probably coincided with the emergence of the Beatles and the Monkeys – – soon followed by groups like Blood Sweat and Tears, James Taylor, Chicago, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, the Allman Brothers, etc., etc.. So from about age 9 or 10 for the next 10 years I was immersed in that world of music to the point that today – even though I intentionally stopped listening to those artists when I moved to CA a few months before my 20th birthday – – today if I hear one of those songs in a restaurant or coffee shop or grocery store – – I can still recite the lyrics.
Perhaps some of that is because I spent many hours singing the songs of those and many other artists – sometimes alone, sometimes with others – usually with my guitar, but also on the piano. As time went on, opportunities to perform in front of others presented themselves, which is probably why some of the lyrics are so enmeshed in my brain. My whole lifestyle was encased and supported and stimulated by the music I listened to and sang at every possible opportunity.
But somewhere along the way – probably in my mid to late high school years – I began to be introduced to another world of music. And a clash of world views and heart tugs began to erupt inside me. That world of music – typically called Contemporary Christian music – left me with a totally different feeling and mindset – than the music I described above. That music drew me to a kingdom of light – a kingdom where women were no longer merely sex objects – and where escape was not the ultimate experience – – and where taking responsibility not only for one’s life, but for the needs of others and problems of society around me was increasingly the norm for manhood, and where the King of this kingdom was living and relational and worthy of my utmost devotion.
I’ve had some wonderful times listening to such music when driving or washing the dishes or straightening up our garage. But what is really driving me these days is what happens when God’s people gather to worship Jesus Christ “in spirit and in truth” as He instructed us to do.
I hear folks bemoaning often these days about how the devil seems to be winning in so many aspects of American life and society. And perhaps he temporarily is in some sectors of society. But friends – Jesus Christ promised or vowed that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not stand against it (Matt. 16:18). And we – His disciples – who gather together as His church have been given the keys to His kingdom (Matt. 16:19) – – one of which I am convinced is the weapon (so to speak) of corporate worship.
So many battles were won in biblical history on the heels of an army of worshippers (e.g. II Chronicles 20:22) . Somehow – when we gather and worship in spirit and in truth – not only are we deeply affected and transformed – but society around us is also eventually impacted.
Now the enemies of God’s people today are not foreign armies like they were in II Chronicles chapter 20. Rather our enemies are anything and everything that causes our neighbors and co-workers and relatives to bow their knees to the idols of materialism and hedonism and a host of other isms rather than bowing their knees to King Jesus, who alone can set them free to be who He has called them to be.
There is a lot I could say about the music that fuels the idolatry of all of these isms or gods. But my passion is that disciples of Jesus wake up and realize the authority we have been given to bind and loose through one of the keys of the kingdom otherwise known as corporate worship with God’s people. Worship wherein we give Him the praise and honor He is due, and wherein we hear His voice, receive His instructions, and gain His heart for those who are still in chains around us. Far more happens when we gather to worship with God’s people than we realize – if we are truly worshipping in spirit and in truth.
Jesus Christ loves and deeply cares for every city on this planet and the families and individuals that populate them. Their only hope is that there is a group of disciples nearby that by His Spirit learn to unleash His power and presence with all of the keys of His kingdom – not the least of which is corporate worship.