Recently, I heard a Christian song come on the radio while I was driving to Casey’s (for those outside of Kansas---Casey’s is a convenience store). Shout to the Lord, is an “oldie but goody” that I’ve heard a thousand times, so when I heard it come on my response was “lukewarm.” But, I decided I was going to do something unusual. When I got to Casey’s I set in my car---and actually listened to the words of this song I know so well. I had a genuine worship experience as I heard the lyrics about God: “Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your Name.” WOW! Those are powerful words. I remember when I first heard this song years ago-- it gave me chills to think of God’s Majesty and Power. NOW--the song has become old hat. In fact, it almost became “background noise” as I drove to the store. That’s a SCARY thought.
I think I’ve discovered a “down side” to Christian radio. We can hear songs about the greatness of God----and we ignore them. Don’t get me wrong, I like Christian music. If you’re going to have background music I’d rather it be Shout to the Lord than Marilyn Manson---but we need to FIGHT the tendency to let things of God become “background” issues. And rest assured its going to be a FIGHT. In our society we are so BOMBARDED with imagery (both audio and visual) that we are highly trained in ignoring things. This can be a very edifying skill when you're driving by billboards with sinful pictures plastered on them. But this can be a very deadly skill when you use it to ignore God, even if you’re ignoring Him “sub-consciously.” You don’t even realize you’re doing it---and yet we so often do it.
This mindset can easily be transferred to Sunday morning worship. Have you ever mumbled the words of a familiar hymn (or praise song) while you were thinking about last night’s ballgame, or Sunday dinner, or what you’re doing after church? If so, then you have just let WORSHIP become BACKGROUND NOISE in your life. Which means you haven’t really WORSHIPED at all. You’ve sung. And if the song had God’s Name in it (Shout to the LORD), then you’ve blasphemed! Does that sound too harsh? Don’t blame me--Take it up with the God who gave us the 3rd commandment (Thou shall not use God’s Name in vain.)
I’ve heard it said that the 3rd commandment is broken more by Christians on Sunday morning than it is by the drunks on Saturday night. I’m sure its true. They use God’s Name as a curse word. We use God’s Name as “background noise.” Both cases are using God’s Name in vain. What’s more----we will give an account to God for this! Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Matt. 12:36) It kind of gives a whole new outlook to the “Prayer Hymn” doesn’t it?
I wonder what it was like back in the days before radio and TV? If a Christian wanted to hear a song about God back then they had to sing it themselves (or listen to someone else sing in person). It seems like it would have been harder to use God’s Name in vain through a song under those circumstances. So I guess in a way our numerous electronic blessings, can also be a curse. We can “listen” to Christian music 24/7---and yet NEVER really LISTEN to it. We can hear GLORIOUS descriptions of GOD’S GRANDEUR and not even notice because we’re watching the stoplight. We can “sing along” to a song on the radio and not pay any attention to what we’re singing. If you do that listening to country music, you might sing about cheating on your wife (see blog on Secular Music in my Archives under Living the Faith), if you do that listening to “hip hop” you may sing about beating your wife. If you do that singing “worship songs”---------you may blaspheme the God of the Universe whose son died for your sins…..THAT’S REALLY SCARY! Now may be a good time to stop and read the last few sentences again….AND REALLY THINK ABOUT THEM……Think about this next time you’re listening to the radio in your car. Think about this next time your asked to “join us in singing” in a worship service. Think about it……and start training your mind and heart to “pay attention” when God is the topic. Learn to cultivate a heart of true, genuine worship-----not just singing. And whatever you do----DON’T EVER let GOD become “background noise” in your life……..Just a little something to think about……