Selfless or Selfish?
Is your church acting selfish or selfless?
Consider Romans 12:10:
“Be devoted to one another in mutual love, give preference to one another in honor.”
The Greek word typically translated as “give preference” in the NASB is προηγούμενοι. It means esteem highly, outdo, surpassing, leading the way. I like the way the NETBible translates it: “showing eagerness in honoring one another.” Yet another translation is “falling all over ourselves in showing honor and respect”. Are we doing this? What would our church look like if we did? And yes, this applies to music in the worship service.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update (Php 2:3–4). (1995). The Lockman Foundation.
As the theme of chapter two is unity through selfless humility, this applies to anything controversial that might break that unity…like styles of music in your church.
(Unity: “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” verse 2)
We could say it this way: “do not merely look out for your own personal style of music but also for the styles of music of others.” Yet most of our churches seem to care little that they have members for whom a different musical style ministers to them. Selfish. How about your church? Does it provide a variety of musical styles? Hymns, traditional, gospel, contemporary? Or is it shutting out the ones it don’t like?
If we truly are “eager to honor one another”, the people loving hymns would be eager to do contemporary songs as a part of the variety of styles in worship. As would the contemporary be eager to show honor those members of the body of Christ who are ministered to by hymns. Or Gospel music. If you had a Hmong contingent in your congregation that would include their music as well.
The word “honor” is τιμῇ. Meaning value, honor, respect. Do we really respect others in our congregation? Are we conformed to the world? Seeking to be so “relevant” that we have lost our “counter-cultural” edge.
Are we doing only hymns? Only gospel music? Only Contemporary music? Then we are violating scripture. The shame is that it does not have to be this way. Do some hymns (with piano), do gospel, do contemporary (with drums and guitars) Do a variety! It is the scriptural and mature way.
And to be “authentic” to the style the hymns should not be done with drums and guitars anymore than contemporary christian should be done with a string quartet! (Propose that one to your director.)
They will know we are Christians by our love. We are not fooling the secular, non-believing world. They can easily see we do not respect one another in our own assembly and we quickly lose credibility.
Let’s examine our churches and our own attitudes. It is time for a change, for reformation.
Thanks for listening.