by Rick Pidcock
If I had a dollar for every time a Christian told me that they do not listen to Christian music, I’d be a full-time corporate worship leader. As somebody who is passionate about worship, it always saddens me to hear this. If God has given us a new song, then why would we not want to listen to music that expresses our grattitude to Him?
The main reason that people tell me they do not listen to Christian music is that it is inferior to the music produced by the world. They say that Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) is inferior to today’s rock music because its lyrics are bad poetry and its music is cheesy. On the other hand, they also say that Traditional Christian Music (TCM) is inferior to most classical music because its lyrics are bad poetry and its music is dull.
For a long time, when people would tell me these things, my initial reaction would be to judge them for not worshiping God throughout the week. But the more I think about it, the more I find myself sympathizing with them.
The fact of the matter is that they are right. The world worships many gods. And they pursue worshiping those gods through the arts with a burning passion for excellence. On the other hand, we worship the one true God. Yet, we so often pursue worshiping Him through the arts by settling for whatever rhyme or melody comes easiest.
In reality, Christian music should be far superior to the music of the world because its God is far superior to the god of the world. Isaiah 40:18-20 say,
“To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.”
This passage is the essence of the art of the world. In their music, they set up people, places, things, and ideas as having the ultimate value that God has. And they do an excellent job of glorifying those things through music.
However, the God that we worship is far greater. Isaiah 40:21-23 say,
“Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.”
The gods of the world pale in comparison to our God. So why does our effort to worship our God pale in comparison to their effort to worship their gods?
They sing of a love that ends. We sing of a love that never ends.
They sing of a treasure that fades. We sing of an inheritance that endures forever.
They sing of a home that falls apart. We sing of a home with the family of God.
They sing of an earthly nation. We sing of the Kingdom of God.
“The sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters,
will be heard in you no more.” –Revelation 18:22
One day their worship will end. But ours will continue forever.
So this is my plea to Christian artists everywhere. Pursue worshiping our God with excellence. This demands listening to and studying music. It also requires studying good poetry and writing. When people see the art that you create, they should come away saying, “The art that the world worships its inferior gods with pales in comparison to the art that the Church worships its superior God with.” We should all come away from Christian art with a greater view of our superior God. But that end is hindered so many times because Christian artists settle for easy art, rather than excellent art.
Here are a few symptoms of a Christian whose art is inferior. In no way is this list complete. But hopefully it will get you to examine the art that you create or use.
If the listener can often guess your rhymes before you get there, your art is inferior.
If you continually use the same few chord progressions, your art is inferior.
If your knowledge of music theory has not developed over the past year, your art is inferior.
If you still play the same songs today in the same exact way that you have done every single week for the past 75 years, your art is inferior.
If your lyrics are not good poetry and aesthetically pleasing, your art is inferior.
If most of your songs sound the same, your art is inferior.
If your music is not written to match the mood of the lyrics, your art is inferior.
If your lyrics present God in a way that overemphasizes a few of His charateristics, while ignoring the rest of how He has revealed Himself to us, your art is inferior.
If your song was written in five minutes, your art is inferior.
We worship a superior God. Let’s create art that glorifies Him in a far superior way to the art that the world worships their gods with.