I grew up in a traditional Southern Baptist Church. This may sound weird, but I pretty much loved it (Probably ’cause I loved our Pastor. He was a good one). While I didn’t really live it, I still loved it. We had a pianist that played by herself with brother so-and-so leading us through a handful of hymns (verses 1,2, and 4 only of course). As I think back on it now, it feels kind of nostalgic.
I remember a time when I began to shift the way I thought about worship. Something happened to me when I went to a church that had a drum set on stage and a leader who led with a guitar. I remember how difficult it was as a believer when I began to worship in new ways that seemed right to me. I found myself constantly having to defend the fact that the guitar and drums were really not from the devil (I’m intentionally over-exaggerating).
I remember the first three verses of Psalm 33 to be a chapter that gave me comfort when thinking about this new “contemporary” style of worship.
“Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” – Psalm 33:1-3
Why is it that so many were threatened with this new form of worship? For sure there are those who cast stones at the hymnals and choir lofts. While change can be good, sometimes we do it bad. While I didn’t necessarily feel traditional methods in themselves, were any less worshipful, they had certainly lost their place as a personal preference for me.
Today I’m reminded of how I’m learning to just live what I’m called towards. I’m also reminded of our nature to act like we have the market cornered. And even when our intentions are pure, our actions and words can easily not seem that way. They can quickly provoke a defensive posture in others. Our perspective is everything. And while we’ll always have our own perspective, it’s the way of the Lord that matters. As Andy Stanley put it in his book, “Visioneering”: “WAY is God’s specialty.”
“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.” – Psalm 33:11-12
One thing is for sure, what we must place as a priority in our affections, are the plans of the Lord before our own. No matter our style, method, tradition, philosophy of ministry, or posture in our community… hopefully we’re chasing what we know of God and His ways with everything we’ve got. And whatever we are doing, we do as an overflow of how God is moving in our hearts.
This may come at great cost. We may be called from everything we’ve always known. And that can hurt. I’m reminded in verses 13-17 that many times God uses change to keep our focus on Him and not a model, strategy, or tradition.
“From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.” – Psalm 33:13-17
If we were to think on these last few verses, we could probably find many places of application in our lives that would benefit from a little reorientation. That might demand some change in our lives. That change might just be the catalyst that results in the personal revolution our soul’s been craving.