“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17)
Last week, I was having a conversation with a student that I worked with this past summer at Hope Church in Richmond. After I told him that we were going to be having a hymn service, he said that he doesn’t like hymns because he thinks that they are boring. This made me think of a conversation that I had with my brother who is also a Worship Minister in Virginia Beach. He pointed out that hymns are often written by theologians, not musicians. The beauty of this is that hymns are usually extremely scripturally routed and do not sacrifice theology and Jesus-centeredness for the sake of lyrical creativity. Another wonderful thing about singing hymns today is that our contemporary style of worship music allows us to take these songs and make them even more musically appealing. I believe that these two aspects of hymns made for a powerful worship service this past Sunday that was focused on Jesus and truly glorified His name.
When Paul was writing to the church at Colossae during his first imprisonment at Rome, the Colossians were experiencing a wave of false teachings. It was being taught that Jesus was not God. Jesus’ sovereignty was being questioned, and Paul was not going to allow that to happen. In his letter, Paul expressed the glory, power, and authority of Jesus Christ. With that, he also encouraged the church to worship the Lord and bring glory to Him with wisdom in their actions and forms of worship. Even today, we need to approach how we worship with caution and wisdom. We need to be wary of false teachings in order to make sure that our worship is honoring to Jesus.
Thirteenth-century theologian, Thomas Aquinas, said, “a hymn is the praise of God with song; a song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice.” This thought expresses how we should treat our worship music. When we sing songs to Jesus our minds should be focused and “dwelling” on the ultimate eternal thing, Jesus Christ. I encourage everyone to evaluate yourselves. When we sing songs of worship to the Lord, where is your focus? Are you allowing the word of Christ to dwell in your singing? Are you singing with thankfulness in your heart?