A NEW SONG
By Paul Proctor
February 17, 2004
Would somebody please tell me why we applaud singers at church? We don�t applaud people when they pray. We don�t applaud the preacher when he preaches or the teacher when he teaches or the ushers when they pass around the plate. Does anyone applaud the greeters or the nursery workers for their performance each week? How about the folks that mow the grass on Saturday or clean the restrooms on Monday; does anybody clap for them? I�ll bet your church secretary has never received a round of applause � unless she�s in the choir, of course.
No, the reality is, we applaud singers almost exclusively. Why? Because that�s what our entertainment-oriented world has taught us to do. Like many other things these days; as the world does, so does the church. We instinctively applaud people that amuse us in some way or another in a live group setting. Sometimes we applaud for no other reason than, everyone else is applauding and we don�t want to appear different and look as if we disapprove or weren�t paying attention. It is a carnal response we offer and a clear reward intended for those who move us emotionally with a song, pure and simple � something for the eyes to see and the ears to hear, requiring, by the way, absolutely no faith in Christ.
I am reminded of the three instances in scripture where Jesus spoke disparagingly of �hypocrites� who performed for the eyes of others through their giving, their praying and their fasting in Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:16 � ending all three with the same solemn pronouncement, �They have their reward.�
�I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.� � Romans 12:1
If carrying out the Lord�s will each day, including Sunday, is merely our �reasonable service�, why then should any of His redeemed be applauded for it � especially in a worship service where all glory, honor and praise belong to God?
If the songs we applaud during worship are not entertainment and we�re not really rewarding singers for services rendered, why then do we only applaud performers after they finish a song? If it isn�t their performance we�re applauding, why don�t we applaud when we see them before church in the foyer, in the hallway or on their way to the microphone? Why don�t we applaud them for just being a member of the choir or for simply showing up on Sunday?
Do we applaud singers at church because they had to prepare diligently beforehand? Well, didn�t the preacher and the teacher both put in at least as much time in their preparation of a sermon and lesson as that singer did for his or her song? What about the poor ushers? Where�s their reward? They have to go up and down the aisles for money like beggars! I�m sure they could use some applause.
I know what some of you are thinking: �We�re applauding the Lord, not the singers!� Oh, is that right? Well, if it�s the Lord you�re applauding; why don�t you applaud Him when the preacher brings a stirring message directly from the Word of God and tells you that the sins of all those who have repented and put their faith in Christ are forgiven � that they have been forever set free from an eternity in Hell? If there was ever a time to applaud God, wouldn�t that be it � or are you waiting for a song?
Why don�t we applaud the Lord when the teacher shows us in the scriptures where Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day or when Saul becomes Paul after the Lord strikes him blind on the road to Damascus and he stops persecuting the church to follow Christ and spread the good news that Jesus lives?
Why don�t we applaud the Lord when we sit down over a hot meal at dinnertime? Did you applaud the Lord when He gave you your first child or when you got a raise at work? How about that new house or car? Did you applaud the Lord for either of those? Fact is � you didn�t even applaud the salesman for giving you a good deal, now did you? How about when you didn�t get the flu this year or that lab work that came back negative? Was there any clapping around the house over that? Why don�t we applaud the Lord when we get up in the morning � if for no other reason, just because He gave us another day?
Maybe if He sang to us we would.
Why don�t we applaud hymns like we do praise songs and all those sensually gratifying contemporary Christian tunes we throw our money at in the record stores? Maybe those hymns are a little more honest about our condition than praise tunes are � maybe a little too honest.
Maybe we applaud praise choruses because so many of us are still in bondage to our sin and those little simplistic chants we can�t seem to live without help put a smile on our face and anesthetize the pain of our own stubborn disobedience and rebellion toward God � soothing and distracting our unrepentant hearts by allowing us two or three glorious minutes of relief to forget our troubles with a mesmerizing melody so we can pretend there really isn�t anything wrong with our spiritual lives � you know, kind of like when we go to a concert or a show or just turn the radio up real loud in the car on the way to the mall to drown out that �still small voice� so we�ll momentarily feel better about ourselves. Would it be accurate to say they might just be an escape for many of us?
Oh we LOVE those praise choruses, don�t we? It�s like we can�t worship without them. Aren�t praise songs essentially musical prayers? Didn�t Jesus specifically command us in Matthew 6:7 to not use "vain repetitions" when we pray? And isn�t that precisely what many praise choruses are; vain repetitions?
�But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.� � Matthew 6:7
One dear lady, whom I think the world of, wrote me the other day about her fondness for choruses, noting, that in singing them, �you really don�t have to think real hard��
I couldn�t agree more.
So, not only do we offer �vain repetitions� to God in worship these days, we applaud and exalt those that excel in it. Shall we gather to praise, honor and glorify men or worship the Lord? Just who is it we�re really applauding at church? I certainly can�t answer that question for you but I do know that God sees the heart.
Could it be, in casually celebrating His marvelous love for us with �vain repetitions� and resounding applause, we�ve forgotten all about His holiness and jealousy in order to unduly reward ourselves in His presence?
Exodus 20:5, Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24, Deuteronomy 5:9, Deuteronomy 6:15, Deuteronomy 32:16, Deuteronomy 32:21, Joshua 24:19, Ezekiel 39:25, Nahum 1:2, 2 Corinthians 11:2
� 2004 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at [email protected]�
"Like many other things these days; as the world does, so does the church."