It's not often I have an opinion about something. I don't tend to feel strongly about things, that's just my personality. That's probably why I don't enjoy debates at all. It's also why I don't like to use this blog as a place to air my opinions...
That doesn't mean I don't think truth is important. On the contrary, I think truth should be defended and upheld at all costs and that's partly what this blog entry is about.
But I want this to be read bearing in mind that I am a sinner saved only by the precious grace of Jesus Christ, nothing more, nothing less. My words will always be mingled with mixed motives and intentions, informed by experiences unique to me, and tinted by my own personal slant on life. Maybe I have a chip on my shoulder about this, maybe I just feel strongly about it because it is true...I don't know. I just want to throw this thought out there and wanted to make that disclaimer before doing so.
There are many songs that I personally enjoy, that help me to sing praise to God when I am on my own, but that I would never choose to sing when in the context of a group or church...and in fact would even say that to do so would be very dangerous if they were all we sang.
Take for example, this song, The Stand:
I'll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned,
In awe of the One who gave it all,
I'll stand, my soul Lord to you surrendered,
All I am is yours.
Now I like this song. In fact I am listening to it right now! I like it musically, and I like the words too. Because I am certain that Jesus is who is meant by 'the One who gave it all' and that the giving of everything spoken of is referring to when Jesus died on the cross to take the penalty for sinners. There is nothing inherently wrong with this song! But the reason why I think it would be unwise to sing this song/or a song like this in a group context is this: I cannot assume that just because I am thinking about the gospel when I sing this song, that everyone else is too. In fact we could be singing about almost anything or anyone!
[I must be fair to the writers of this song, because the above lyrics are actually only the chorus, which comes after a couple of verses explaining why God is so praiseworthy, but almost no-one knows this because the verses are never sung!!! This chorus has been turned into a whole song of its own.]
The reason why this I think it is very dangerous to sing, in corporate worship, songs which are not explicit about the gospel as revealed in the Bible is because an 'assumed' gospel will soon become no gospel at all. If we in our groups do not sing about the specifics of the gospel as well as how we feel about it, then the newcomer to the group, or even the believer who hasn't had much opportunity to read the Bible in depth yet, will not know what they are singing about. If this generation assumes that everyone knows the gospel and so does not proclaim it to each other, then the next generation will not know the gospel at all!
Now I know there is more than one way to remind each other of the gospel, this task is not completely reliant on the songs that we sing, that's why I asked you to read this bearing in mind that I can never be totally agenda-free when I write. But our songs are surely a good place to start aren't they? They are also one of the best ways that we learn and remember information. And anyway, why would we want to sing about anything else?
If we are to take the command of Titus 3:8 seriously then I think that we need to think really carefully about the kind of songs we sing:
"3At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone." (Titus 3:3-8)