Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Music and the Body of Christ

Our music ministry is discussing John Piper's Ambushing Satan with Song. I've been considering this...

The first thing that occurred to me was an observation from my time in the Marine Band. With modern communication technology and the particular evolution of music in our culture, the role of the band as a musical entity is traditional. At one time, military musicians served two roles in warfare. The first was to broadcast commands to troops on the battlefield. This is the origin of bugle calls. The second was to conduct psychological warfare by motivating friendly soldiers and discouraging enemy soldiers. This still happens some today, but not by the band. When faced with an organized army, American forces will establish speakers near the enemy to discourage them with exceptionally loud rock music. This has obvious parallels to Piper’s message.

While Piper’s message delves into the importance of the role of leaders of music, I was considering this in general today (Tuesday). I went to Stone Mountain to go hiking and sat on a rock on top of the mountain to rest, consume some refreshments, and study some passages Lois had sent me. In going from one passage to another, I came across a familiar one and decided to re-read it and discovered something I had never noticed before. The passage is From Ephesians 5. With this passage Paul exhorted the Ephesians toward a lifestyle of righteousness founded on their relationship with God. In this context he wrote the following:

17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.



In verses 18 and 20, Paul invokes each member of the trinity. Smack dab in between in verse 19, Paul writes the famous line regarding the use of music in corporate worship – arguably a representative trinity itself (psalms, hymns, spiritual songs). So we are encouraged to “be filled with the Spirit” and “give thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father”. And how are we to do this? By “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our heart to the Lord.”

Another observation is that preaching and teaching aren’t mentioned. It is only given to some to preach and some to teach. It is given to all to produce music.

Then he includes this addendum: “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” I had the passage that follows read at my and Lois’ wedding:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;

29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,

30 because we are members of His body.

31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.

32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.


My take on this comes from verse 32, which is to say that the marital relationship, through submission, is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. This can be applied to music as well. Where musicians aren’t unified, the music is discordant and unpleasant. In order for musicians to be unified, they must submit to a director. If two musicians perform together, at any given time it is clear that one must lead and the other follow. If many musicians play, they must all submit to a designated director and the director must submit his requirements to the capabilities of the individual musicians.

With respect to the Body of Christ our response to Christ is submission. This submission is demonstrated through music in worship. Music encourages us to trust one another for healthy function of the Body of Christ. When we commit ourselves to submission to one another and behave in worship this way, the lies of Satan that would destroy our right fellowship are thwarted. These lies tell us to be suspicious of each other for various reasons. This cripples the Body of Christ and makes us fail to function properly. While solid preaching, teaching and direction are necessary for proper function, music is the tool that the Holy Spirit uses to unify, align and motivate members of the Body to effective use and purpose in the will of God.

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