Posted by: molly | October 1, 2010

A response: God doesn’t need the “Total Message”

The original article is a basic argument that one must look at all the parts of a song.  He gives an equation:  THE TOTAL MESSAGE = the Words + the Music + the Presentation + the Musician’s Known Lifestyle + the Social Context of the Music.

He argues that the words of the song alone are not enough.  All good music must also have a fitting style (which he views mostly as hymns), a God-honoring presentation (not man focused), a good moral character for the performer (he attacks the Christmas pop CDs that have secular artists singing Christmas hymns), and a social context (which is basically an argument that Christian music must be different than secular music).

I recently stumbled on this blog post.  I don’t normally respond to blog posts–let alone to blog post of people I don’t know (and even more so to blog posts of people who have a relatively high readership and are directly opposed to my views on a topic…)  Yet, as I read this post, I couldn’t help but notice that it accidentally puts our wonderful and all-powerful God in a “man’s reputation of God” (aka, man’s “testimony”) sized box.

When the apostle Paul penned the book of Philippians under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he was sitting in a prison cell in Rome.  When most of us would be moaning about how we must suffer in the Lord or bragging that we are better Christians because we have had to suffer, Paul rejoiced with a pure heart.  He told those who are in Philippi that his imprisonment had lead to advance the Gospel.  Generally getting arrested in our culture is not the best witnessing tool, but God had used a negative event to advance His kingdom on earth.  Paul goes on to express another negative event.  While he was sitting in prison, some people were going out and preaching the Gospel “from envy and rivalry” (Phil. 1:15 ESV).  These men were not preaching the truth out of love–they were trying to afflict Paul!  And yet, despite the poor motivation, Paul wrote in Philippians 1:18 that that didn’t matter.  Instead he rejoiced that “in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that [Paul] rejoice[s].”

Augustine stated that “All truth is God’s truth.”  God is not dependent on the vehicle He chooses to convey His truth.  He is bigger than the broken instruments He uses to proclaim His praises.  When any man or woman, moral in the eyes of man or not, stands before a congregation to sing, he or she is a broken vessel to communicate God’s truth.  Whether a “good church kid” or a repentant prostitute, God can use people to proclaim truth.  In the Old Testament God even used a donkey (an unrepentant animal I am sure) to give Baalam truth!  God can even use pop musicians with sinful lifestyles to teach His truth.  He is that big.

Paul should have been mad while he sat in jail.  Everything was all wrong about the way these people were giving the Gospel.  They were not doing it out of love.  They were preaching out of spite–spite toward him no less!  And yet, that didn’t matter.  They had the important part right:  they had the truth of the Gospel.  And in the light of this truth, all the other factors faded into the background as God chose to use broken vessels–the same way that He always does.

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