In case you haven’t seen this boy sobbing to “Say Something” yet, please do.
Beyond the laughs and naïve sympathy we feel for this poor child, let’s also take a moment to ponder the power of music.
It isn’t the words that move the boy; it’s the melody. He can feel the melodic force in these minor chords. Music itself has a way of expressing and engaging emotion that few other mediums can. We can hear a song and in an instant be taken back to a moment. But music can not only take us back to moments in our past, it can also conjure up emotion in our present. Like this boy, good music can stir up something within each of us.
Like the power of fire, this should not be unleashed without restraints, especially within the church. This is one of my greatest concerns with the modern, evangelical movement. I see many churches that create an emotional experience each Sunday through musical worship and pawn it off as an experience with the Holy Spirit. I think there are countless multitudes who leave church crying, sincerely believing that they have experienced God, but have only experienced the same thing that boy did in the back seat of his father’s car.
Our worship of God should not be led by our emotions, because we know that they can be easily manipulated, but by truth. The words we sing and proclaim are far more important than the way we feel. As a good friend of mine has said, “Content is king. Creativity and catchiness are its faithful servants.” So let your heart be led by objective truth and not by subjective and fleeting emotion.
This isn’t said to demonize emotion. We should aim to be emotionally moved in our worship of God. How could we not be?! Our prayer should be that God would stir our affections for Christ, but we must make sure that they are holy affections or as Jonathan Edwards puts it, religious affections, and not man-made affections.
Now there is the entire issue unaddressed here: that many churches aren’t giving their members songs to sing that actually contain solid truth but are instead repeating the same 6 words over and over again. But that’s another post for another time.
Our end goal is to worship God in both Spirit and truth (at least that’s what Jesus said to the woman at the well so I’m going to take his word for it). Because after all, God created this whole music thing. It was his idea. Therefore it was a good idea. And he designed it specifically to carry with it the power that it does. But as Christians, and especially as Christian leaders, we have to be careful how we wield this power. Some of the most stirred moments I have felt in my affections for God have been when truth and melody mingle together in a powerful way.
So when you sing on Sunday, make sure you are raising your hands and heart because of the words that you are singing and not simply because of the emotions that you are feeling. Give him more than the worship of a toddler crying in the back seat of a car; give him the worship of both your heart and your mind.