It’s an old story of a farmer who’s dogs are always fighting and when asked which one he thinks will win, he replies; ‘that’s easy, it’s the one I feed’.
Galatians 5 talks about the Christian life as being one of constant battle…
The old nature: the natural me, the me that longs to live for me, the me that wants to make my life easy, the me that thinks I know best about what happy and satisfied means. Constantly at war with the renewed me. The redeemed, sanctified, made perfect, guaranteed-but-not-fully-realised-until-the-new-creation, covered-with-Jesus-blood-and-righteousness me that longs to do the right thing.
And isn’t it true that in order to stand any chance of even slightly gaining ground in this battle, we need to feed the side that we want to win?
Now of course there are a million ways to do this that we won’t go in to here; but perhaps for those of us who love music, one of the most challenging ways we can fight, is to think about what we spend our days listening to.
I always have music on in the background. And it is always what I like to dogmatically say (because I know best obviously) is good music. But what I struggle with is that the majority of Christian music does not fit into my bracket of good music. I find that either it is musically ok but lyrically ropey, or lyrically wonderful but musically a bit of a drag. And so although I love it in a church setting, I don’t always want to listen to it in my own time.
But I wonder if actively choosing to listen to music that is all about Jesus is one of the ways in which we might feed the right side of the battle. A way for me to daily be preaching truth at myself?
So going for a run with some high speed Hillsong Young and Free, or chilling out to the mother’s favourite, Fernando Ortega. Or getting my inner angst on to Citizens and Saints, or cooking to Cory Asbury. Or whatever your style is. Because even if some of these songs wouldn’t be quite what we’d sing in church, they are a million times better to be constantly filling our heads with than whatever is on Radio 1.
Standard music is all about sex or romance or money or bitterness or, in summery – me and my happiness, or anger at the world, or whatever. It’s a world view that promotes me promoting myself. Doing whatever it takes to be happy. Loving myself. As I write this I have ‘if it makes you happy’ by Sheryl Crow (which by the way is not my idea of great music) running round in my head as a pretty blatant case and point. And even the best scenario song is about me loving beauty and fun and love without any reference to the artist and commander of these things.
And sometimes after days of not listening to anything but secular music I start to feel that my heart is growing cold. I’m longing for things that aren’t about Jesus. My opinion of myself is twisted from an honest reality of who I am in all my sinful, redeemed glory, to a ‘love myself because I’m awesome’ lie that the world would have me believe. And in short, I lose sight of who I really am and what my true purpose in life is.
I am not saying that other music is all bad. Really I’m not. And i’ll continue to listen to it cos it’s genius. (Although obviously there’s wisdom in avoiding certain artists/songs). But might it be good to think about what you listen to and how much?
It’s our mantra verse here at music ministry.. ‘to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly… as we sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to the Lord’ (Col. 3:16). But I wonder how much we think of doing this daily as actually part of what keeps us going; keeps us straining ahead; keeps Jesus in our minds at all times; keeps our purpose here on earth clear in the middle of work or traffic jams or mundane tasks; keeps us feeding the winning side of the battle against our natural selves? Keeps us loving Him?
Until we reach the new creation. Where we see Him, the fight is over, and the music will be both stylistically incredible (whatever your taste!!) and lyrically perfect! That sounds pretty great.
If you didn’t already know, on Spotify we are building a bunch of playlists that might help with this. There are ones in there to help with service planning, but also for you in your personal time. Check them out, follow to keep up to date, and enjoy!