I was thinking real hard about how to express what I am trying to say when I titled this post. I am not even sure if I will get my point across but I shall try.
I was one of those kids who feared something “bad would happen” if I didn’t comply with whatever was supposed to occur. I was always scared, but in the end, I was able to accomplish what they wanted. One of these things was singing in the Church.
My mother told me at an early age that I had a wonderful voice, that I was able to soothe babies and that my voice should be used to lift God up in praise. But then again, my mother was half deaf and 100% tone-deaf. So I never was really sure if she was telling the truth or making up something new.
So each Sunday, I was literally forced to sing a song at the front of the little church congregation we were part of. We were a part of it because that is where we were at the time. We were not really a part of it because my parents believed what was being preached, they never believed it. As a matter of fact, we were not ever really ” a part of” anything. My mother had a fear of being “trapped” and therefore, moved us from one church to the other; parading us and showing us off like animals in a petting zoo. So as kids, we never really got to settle down and make friends….we never stayed at a church long enough to really get to “know” anyone. And I think this was sad because at least for me, as a child, I longed to have other people of my age, color, background, and physicality in my life. I needed to feel that there was something out there, something more than just me and my white adoptive family.
As my parents began their “missionary” job, they started to bring in groups. Those groups were mostly white Christian and part of their weekly routine was for them to come, eat, have a time of worship, and then return to the dorms that were so neatly organized, cleaned and arranged by one of the indentured servants at my home. My home, the place that once had some semblance of peace now became a compound for more white people….but they did bring something different.
Now, I have always enjoyed singing but I did not enjoy doing it in front of anyone-as in fact, I got so scared that I would have to urinate right before the “show” was to start. It got to a point where my stomach would start hurting. My mother would give me the look. All she had to do was give me a look and I thought that I would be grounded for life if I didn’t perform. When I did, and it went well, everyone would praise her and tell her that she did such a great job training me. But realistically, no one trained me…ever. I never had a voice teacher, took piano for some time until my parents got too tired of picking me up, and at the age of 17, picked up the guitar. I love the guitar, it is my favorite instrument to play. To this day, I can still pick up the Guitar and play and sing. But I know the talent comes from God, not from my mother.
Between the age of 9 and 17, I was threatened with grounding, removal of electronics, no weekends out, and nothing fun, if I would not sing in front of people. I grew to hate singing in public and to this day, I don’t feel comfortable.
The worship songs I sang were not even for God. They were songs that were sung so that others could say how wonderful it was, or how wonderfully I sang it…but they were not songs for God. As a child, I envisioned God being up there, shaking his head in disapproval, 1 because I was being forced and 2 because the songs used the pronoun “I”.
Yesterday I was fixing dinner for my family and I decided to type into google “worship songs 2015”. 2 hours and 12 minutes of music that was supposed life my soul. Or was it? Is worship music supposed to be for the singer, the listener or for God-or maybe a bit for all 3. I do not know. All I know is that I don’t feel God approves of us singing songs with the pronoun “I” in it.
I also think that having “personal” relationship with God is the most selfish and ungodly thing that we should have-ever. What are ways that we show God that we love Him? By loving others. But this is done with people who have not “confessed” their love for God. Why is a confession necessary? I have seen people who have not confessed be closer to the Holy Spirit than those who have confessed.
So what do I teach my daughter? To love. To love with all of her heart. To be there for people when they need her, when they don’t need her. To help the poor, the sick, the elderly. To be thankful. Does she have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? I’m not sure, and I am ok with that. I can’t control what will happened once death comes knocking on our door and I for sure will not say a few words and have fire insurance. I can’t tell my daughter that if she does not say the right thing, she will burn in Hell. If I could say that, wouldn’t I be playing God?
So what is with all those worship songs? Why are they so popular, and at times, so amazing? To be honest, when I listen to some of them, I feel transported to another world….I feel connected to God…the words, the lyrics, the music, the syncopation, the talent of the other voices, the different instruments, the “holy spirit” feels like it actually descends on me. I feel a great connection to God. But as soon as I am done with the song, there seems to be some kind of disconnect. I look at it like a fan on a hot day. You plug it in, it goes and goes and goes, and then, (in a country like this one), the electricity goes out, and it turns off, no longer helping me feel amazing. I feel like worship music is like that. I’d like to stay with that High forever…but realistically, we can’t…but is there a way to stay connected, to not give this false sense of hope?
Several years ago I traveled to Cornerstone Festival in Illinois with my then girlfriend of 2 years. If you don’t know CF, it is like a Christian Woodstock. The festival lasts about 4 or 5 days and when you are young, and think that nothing can ever get to you, you think it is the best thing since sliced bread (though sex is better than sliced bread!). At Cornerstone, there are bands of all types…but they are ALL Christian. You get lost in this world of Christianity and you get lost in this idea that “all you need to do is sing a song of praise, or participate in the altar call or get baptized or pray with someone”. But once you get out into the real world, we don’t usually take to that though process. The world we live in is not a Christian bubble and many Christians forget that.
What would happen if we created a church where ANYONE could go? What would happen if there was no separation between worship music and secular music? You see, the way music makes people feel creates a spiritual awakening in them…because Everything in Spiritual no matter what. So when Christians try to “Godify” a secular song, they are really dissing God because if it is a song that lifts people up, then it does not need changing.
Worship music has created a contemporary society of the “them and us”. But in the Bible there is no them and us….there is only one-because we are all one.
As a child, I was only allowed to listen to 20% secular music (and when I was at a friend’s house, that counted) and 80% Christian music. I remember feeling very tired and sad after I would listen to the Christian music because I felt so alone….the Christian music often felt like it was about me and God. But the secular music made me feel as though it was me and the rest of the world.
Maybe the lyrics in Christian music need to change. Maybe the idea of having a “personal” savior needs to change. What would happen if “as for me and my house, we will serve the lord” actually became part of our vocabulary, part of our lingo, part of who we are as people? Why can’t me being a believer cover my daughter, and my wife and even my dog?
I believe God hates Christian Music. I believe He hates it so much that when it is turned on, it makes him cringe. God did not create us to talk about how we will do something, or how we will pray, or what we will say, or who we will judge, or how often we will recite. God Created us to just do it…without ceasing and stop talking about it….but just…..DO it…and not to forget that everything creates a connection to God, and therefore, everything is spiritual.