Have you gone shopping for hot dogs in a grocery store lately? I would rather do anything for my wife than shop for hot dogs. It used to be that a hot dog was a hot dog. Now there are beef dogs, chicken dogs, turkey dogs, beef and pork dogs, beef and turkey dogs, beef, pork, and chicken dogs, bun-length dogs, reduced fat dogs, and fat-free dogs. Having made the right hot dog choice for lunch I was then faced with the choice of what satellite music to listen to as we ate our well-chosen hot dog lunch. Our satellite radio provider offers no fewer than 102 musicstyle choices. Are there really that many different kinds of music in the world? You better believe it! Recently I visited a full-service Christian bookstore. There I discovered the music section divided into 19 categories: praise and worship, modern worship, rap, rhythm and blues, modern, urban, contemporary, gospel, classical, hymns, bluegrass, SKA, Messianic praise, southern, instrumental, modern, alternative, rock, punk, and hard. Whatever happened to the simple choice between traditional hymns and contemporary Christian? While so many types of Christian music can be overwhelming, they can also prove to be spiritually valuable when we carefully make choices that will contribute to our spiritual well being. Being intentional in our selections allows Christian music to move beyond the mere commonplace to become God-honoring, God-revealing and character-building. Being keenly aware of the Christian music around us and not taking it for granted allows it to become more than simply a religious external – something that exists outside our personal spiritual awareness and useful application.
In addition to Christian radio, Internet download websites, iPods, MP3 players, CDs and DVDs offer additional hightech options that provide practically limitless access to Christian music whether we’re driving, flying, working, exercising or just listening. Of course live concerts and church praise and worship services provide rich opportunities for personal application and enjoyment of the rich variety of Christ-centered music.
Active involvement in Christian music can result in personal spiritual growth and increased awareness of God. This involvement might be as simple as actually hearing the music that’s playing and identifying with its message. When the music speaks of the wonders of God, we can reflect on the majesty of God and His creation. At other moments the music may be asking soul-searching questions related to our Christian walk. When the music takes the form of God-directed worship or praise, we make it a personal expression.
In addition to live concerts, worship services, and modern hightech sources of music, the 21st century Christian can still benefit from using a traditional hymnbook. Studying and singing from a printed collection of songs – representing nearly 2000 years of Christian history, theology and teaching – personalizes the Christian message in a way second only to God’s Word. The Bible – in such passages as Psalm 30:4, Psalm 95:12, Psalm 149:1, Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 – actually encourages us to sing, not simply to listen.
Like choosing hot dogs, we can choose from the great variety of Christian music to help us praise God and grow spiritually. It will then prove to be more than simply a pleasant background to our activities. It will become a resource to help us to more fully “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:18).
By Roger Wayne Hicks
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org