It is the gospel and not music that unites us

I just finished watching Bob Kauflin’s message delivered at the 2008 Desiring God Conference, titled: Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing?

Here are some of the many gems from the message:

It is the gospel and not music that unites us.

What does it say to the world when we can’t prefer each other long enough to have a meeting?

I don’t love the people in my church because we all have the same thing on our iPods. Because we can all name the same groups. Or we even all sing from the same hymnal. I love the people in my church because Jesus has enabled me to love them. 

In the book of Revelation, the host of heaven is not united in their style of music but in the focus of their song. (Revelation 5:9-10) What kind of music do people from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation sing?  I don’t know! God didn’t tell us! The Bible didn’t come with a soundtrack. And don’t you wish it did sometimes?…No God wants us to use music in the right ways, and so he tells us what the focus should be. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain. That’s what the focus is. The Lamb must always be central to our corporate singing. Because Jesus is the one who has made it possible.

Let us not walk into another meeting with this mindset. I’ll see what the musicians can do. I’ll wait until the music moves me. Oh no. God has already done something that should move us. He’s given up His Son. He died in our place. He rose in our place. and now He intercedes for us. How can we keep from singing?

This is the mystery, as we focus on the glory of the Lord, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says the Spirit works to change us from one degree of glory to another, so that our singing becomes more than simply a musical event. It is potentially life-changing. 

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This is a wonderful and timely message. I think we see it all too often with the whole ‘generation-gap’ issue. Upbeat, lively contemporary music vs. old hymns. Easy words and repetitive choruses vs. long and theologically laden verses. It gets to the point where we may even consider different services to cater to different generations. To paraphrase Kauflin, while this may be well-intentioned, it is inherently flawed and can undermine our witness. What does it say to the world when we can’t prefer each other long enough to have a meeting? Do you see this in your churches, or churches around you? Do you see it in Christian friends, or yourselves? Have we forgotten it is the gospel and not music that unites us? Why is that? 

There are also many other interesting issues raised in the message. One is the mindset with which we enter our corporate meetings. Do we wait for the music to move us? Do we see what the musicians will do? Or do we just go in with our heart bursting with song, because God has already done something that should move us?

You can read, watch, listen or download the message here. Feel free to let me know what your thoughts are.

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