Time to post again. I thought that my online writing would become relegated to a website, but it’s hard to get away from the type-and-click efficiency of the blog. It’s both convenient and dangerous.
Two related blessings have gotten me thinking about convenience and its effect on the Christian life. Those two blessings are (1) recorded Christian music and (2) BibleWorks software. Recorded Christian music will take up this post, but if you know what BibleWorks software is, you’ll understand the connection. If you don’t know what BibleWorks software is, think instead about the fact that you have a full prinetd English Bible translation at your disposal at all times when most people throughout history did not. The point is the same.
Recorded Christian music is incredible. The powerful combination of beautiful music with Christian lyrics is such a means of refreshment, happiness, encouragement, challenge, meditation, inspiration, and fellowship. And today we have all of this at the push of a button. Tens of thousands of songs. Technologically-advanced music with a mind-blowing variety of sounds and the ability to harmonize them all. Endless nuances. Advanced instruments. Songwriters and singers from around the globe and from a growing number of generations. Hundreds of years of stunning hymns to draw from, and decades of modern songs in our own modern styles. All of this can fill our ears and minds no matter where we’re at — the car, the library, the bathroom, the office, the gym. Two thousand years ago, hearing Christian music took so much more effort. It could only be done live — either you playing and singing or someone else. I would venture to say that it was therefore more valued. It was probably more meaningful. And it was no doubt more refreshing, gladdening, encouraging, challenging, thought-provoking, inspiring, and uniting — as it’s designed to be.
Today, the blessing of Christian music is much more convenient for us. My question is, Is it so convenient that we no longer value it as it ought to be valued? Is it so convenient that we are no longer affected by it as we ought to be affected? As I sat in my study today and heard song after beautiful song playing on our computer in the living room, I was amazed at how much I have gotten used to hearing songs like “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” There it is, playing in the background. I’ve heard it so much, I can sing along without thinking. So convenient. So easy. So soul-numbing. “Without thinking.” Two paralyzingly frightening words.
Convenience is an amazing blessing. But our response to it can be a curse. I am forever scared of forgetting God’s warning to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6 and 8. He warned them that when they entered the Promised Land and inherited houses and vineyards and wells and livestock, they would be almost irresistibly tempted to forget Him. Their souls would be anesthetized by the pure ease of it all. For me, the same is true with blessings like recorded Christian music. If I get to the point that I am no longer stirred by God-honoring music (or by anything God-honoring), I am in a dangerous position. Very dangerous.
Oh, how I want to use convenience wisely. I have so many blessings. It does not honor God for me to forsake them or to refuse to accept them from His hand, as though being a masochist would please Him more. But neither do I want to drink thoughtlessly from His gifts, as if there were no dangers involved. It is wrong to say that convenience is wrong. But it is foolish to say that convenience is safe.
Are we more refreshed, happy, encouraged, challenged, thoughtful, inspired, and united because we partake of so much of God’s gift of music combined with truth? Or are we lazy and spiritually fat? To feast on the gourmet blessings of God is good and right, but if you do not employ the energy from those blessings in pursuing godliness, religious obesity will be your portion. This is not right. The world must see something different from us.
So, a few ideas and suggestions. If you listen to a lot of Christian music without thinking, maybe fast from it for a short time. During that time, think deeply about how much of a blessing it is. When you come back to it, spend time listening to select songs where all you’re doing is sitting and listening. Meditate. Enjoy. Be refreshed and encouraged. Dig through your Bible to find the truth that’s reflected in the lyrics. Be moved. Be different. Actually change something in your life as a result of a song, if the song is biblical. And may the convenience that God has graciously provided us in the 21st century be oil for our flame and not water, and may the fire burn bright for all the world to see.