Why Do We Listen To Music?
In the Old Testament, Sabbath worship was a huge event, bustling with activity. There were cleansing rituals, animal sacrifices, songs sung in specific ways, certain clothing that had to be worn, and specific scriptures that needed to be read. Thankfully, many of these rituals found their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, but that doesn’t mean New Testament worship isn’t any less active. We still sing songs, read scripture, pray, preach, greet, announce, stand, sit, and benedict. There is a lot to do. But sometimes, the most important thing we can do in worship is to be still before God and simply engage our hearts and minds. This doesn’t mean we do nothing. On the contrary, some of the hardest work we do during the service happens when we appear to be doing nothing. The sermon is a great example of this.
Our pastor stands and speaks while we sit still and appear to be doing nothing besides taking a few notes here and there. However, on the inside, we actively listen and engage our minds. We put aside distractions and focus on a single voice. Active listening is becoming a lost art in a culture where we are constantly called to do something, press a button, surf the web, check your messages, like a post, etc. In our times of worship it is essential to actively listen in order to hear what God may be saying to us in Spirit and truth (John 4:24).
There are times when we do this during the music portions of the service as well. When the choir sings an anthem, the pianist plays a moving arrangement, or a singer makes melody with their voice, we listen, engaging our hearts and minds in worship. We sit in stillness and know our God better (Ps. 46:10) as we worship through the gifts of another. During times of listening we are simply the recipients of the rich word of Christ as another shares their gift through music (Col. 3:16). This is why we have specific times during the service where we listen and reflect on who God is, what He has done, and how we can be more like Him.