It’s not ok with me that the whole church doesn’t worship. He is constantly worthy. He’s worthy whether or not “I feel up to it,” whether or not “I’m moved by the music,” whether or not “I like the way the sound is mixed,” whether or not “I can sing along beautifully with the songs,” whether or not “I like the style of the music.”
And beyond His worth, there’s this reality: I need to sing. Not “I want to sing” but “I NEED to sing!”
Read Colossians 3:16 in the context of our singing as an expression of worship. God is giving us clear instructions about how we are to approach this.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
BREAK IT DOWN
- Teach and admonish (this is your job description)
- The message of Christ (this is the content)
- Through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit (this is the method)
- Singing to God (this is the direction)
WHY DO WE SING?
It’s much more than just a warm-up exercise that kills time while we wait for everyone to trickle in for the sermon. We actually think there is something vital to what we’re doing when we sing all together. What do we do? We ascribe worth to the Lord. We teach and admonish through the songs we sing.
God’s given you a job description. He has put you in relationships in his family that call you to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. When he says, “teach and admonish,” you realize we nurture from two directions – one positive and one negative.
When you teach, that’s from the more positive dimension. You’re explaining and urging someone to live in a way that lines up with a Christian point of view. You’re instructing, you’re giving perspective, you’re suggesting how they can live in line with how Christ lives.
When you admonish, that’s from the more negative dimension. You’re warning someone away from a non-Christian way of living. You’re rebuking, correcting, warning people away from thought patterns and lifestyles that are not in line with how Christ lives.
That means that the content of what we’re teaching is crucial. That’s why Paul urges us to let the message of Christ – everything that Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for you – dwell richly among you.
The message of Christ is at the very core of God’s people. What He accomplished in His death and resurrection and what He is doing now, has to inform how we live now with Him and each other. The same message that brings you into God’s family – the message of Christ – is the same message that informs how you live.
THAT MESSAGE WILL BE CHALLENGED THIS WEEK!
The world will tell you to stand on your own two feet, that you are big enough to take care of yourself. That only the strong survive. That beauty and brains and money are all you need to have a happy, successful life. That we are what we do. That we earn our worth by what we can produce.
You already know that the message will be challenged, but it’s so easy to forget it. Without the message of Christ, you will fall back on the so-called wisdom of this dark world that has turned its back on the God who made it.
You need this message of Christ for yourself – you need to be taught. And you need this message of Christ for others – because you are going to need to teach.
Now here’s the fascinating thing. In this passage, the way that you learn and hang on to the message of Christ is THROUGH SINGING TO GOD.
Through the process of singing psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit to God, you are making sure that the message of Christ dwells in you richly.
Does that seem odd? Like why can’t I just read a bunch of theology or memorize Bible passages? Why do I need to sing?
Because music affects you in ways that talking and reading don’t.
You know the experience of not being able to get some song lyrics out of your head because the tune just keeps recycling them through your brain. What is the music doing? It’s keeping specific thoughts and phrases in the forefront of your mind. It’s shaping how you think.
Music also shapes how you feel. There’s something about songs that can touch us at a deep, emotional, more personal level. It’s the difference between saying to your wife, “You look great!” and singing, “You Are So Beautiful To Me” to her.
That’s why we sing TO God, not ABOUT God. If you’re only singing on Sunday because you like the tune or the instruments, you’re not singing to God. You’re engaging the music more than you’re engaging Him – which means you’re coming close to worshipping the music, not worshipping God.
That’s why you need to remind yourself that when you’re singing, you’re relating. You’re singing to God. You’re singing to a person. You must remind yourself of what is true about this Person. You’re not singing abstract truths and principles, but you’re singing about how who He is affects who you are.
You need to gather to worship, and you need to be on time and engaged so that you also can have the message of Christ available to you when those moments come that you have to teach and admonish. Are you saying, “that makes me really uncomfortable – I don’t teach”? Of course you teach people – you just don’t realize that’s what you’re doing. Every time you open your mouth, you’re instructing, urging, encouraging, and reinforcing a particular take on life.
You will point people either to Christ to something else. We sing today because this week’s struggle is coming, and we need the right message living in us.
(Much of today’s Fertilizer comes from a sermon my friend Bill Smith once preached.)