Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart. (Ephesians 5:18b-19)
Why exactly do we sing together?
I suppose that’s a good question, given that LifePoint spends approximately thirty hours per year singing in corporate worship. In fact, after nearly eleven years of being a church, we’ve probably spent over 330 hours singing together. Let’s be sure not to overlook the significance of that. Congregational singing plays a substantial role in Life Together.
If that’s true, shouldn’t we make the most of every opportunity we have to glorify God with one voice (Rom. 15:6)? I think most of us would answer that question with an emphatic YES! Therefore, to sing faithfully as a church, our singing must be profoundly shaped by the Scriptures. Thankfully, Ephesians 5:18b-19 (see above) gives us some important insights. It serves to clarify why we sing in Life Together.
Filled (Continually) With The Spirit
The key to answering this question of why we sing, Ephesians 5:18b-19 suggests, is the Holy Spirit. The manner in which Paul phrases his admonition, “be filled with the Spirit” indicates that believers ought to be filled with the Spirit continually. We’re not talking about a one-time event here. No, this is an ongoing reality that takes place within the worshiping community as it is formed in the manifold glories of the Gospel. Though singing isn’t mentioned, Paul echoes the same reality in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
In other words, we are filled with the Spirit more and more as we behold the glory of Christ. And, consequently, the more we are filled with the Spirit, the more we behold the glory of Christ (Jn. 16:14). Therefore, Paul says, a direct result of all this is exuberant singing that is directed toward Christ Himself. It is the overflow of a Spirit-filled, Christ-enjoying life of worship—a natural response to the astounding revelation of Him in the Gospel. That’s why we sing.
Addressing One Another
However, given that we live in a highly individualistic society, we’re already in danger here. After all, western Christians are quick to think of our sung-worship as a me-and-Jesus enterprise. This is why many churches black out the lights. It’s why people often close their eyes during corporate worship. And it’s also why loud music often overpowers the sound of the congregation singing. We’ve almost come to expect the church to provide an experience designed to make us feel like we’re in a bubble with our “personal Lord and Savior.”
But Paul’s admonition won’t allow us to remain satisfied with that. While he does encourage church members to make heart-felt melodies to Christ, he also instructs us to address one another in our singing. Corporate worship isn’t exclusively vertical; it is also horizontal. It has a dual effect of glorifying Christ and edifying the church.
Therefore, the church needs you to open your mouth and sing. We need to hear the Gospel from you and you from us. As we declare the endless beauty of Jesus together through song, we must remain aware of the fact that we are helping one another behold Christ more faithfully; we are equipping one another for Spirit-filled living. That’s why we worship with the lights on, our eyes open, and the sound system at an appropriate level.
So as we come to church this Sunday, we can’t afford to forget why we sing. Jesus desires to fill His people with His Spirit. He wants us to be invigorated and impassioned by the Gospel. That won’t happen through any hype or gimmicks. No, it takes the church of Christ feasting her eyes on His majesty to create an atmosphere of Spirit-filled worship. So let’s put aside all that grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30) and open ourselves up to all He has for us by craving glory in our midst. If we’ll do that, our singing will be Spirit-filled.
Liturgy for Sunday, August 30, 2015:
Call to Worship: Psalm 34:1-3
Confession & Assurance: 1 Peter 2:22-25
Benediction/Sending: Ephesians 3:20-21