After I wrote last weeks blog, I received an email from an old friend. He raised a question about how using your voice may cause struggles that will “rock the boat” and cause difficulties and rejection, even in the church world. I have pondered this question for a week now.
My friend wonders if he should use his influential global voice to share some changes in his own new understanding of life and freedom in Christ that he knows would upset his more traditional friends, and thus lead to possible rejection or even banishment. I am not sure his specifics but I do remember a big church dilemma I lived through–traditional hymns versus contemporary music.
Enter most churches in the 60’s you would find an organ and a piano. The idea of having guitars, drums and other instruments wasn’t even considered. We sang hymns from the hymnal every week. It was almost badge of honor if you could sing them from memory! We did have a little spiral bound “chorus” book that was used by youth groups which had a bit more lively songs!
But a change was coming. Several things began to happen about the same time. God began to stir up a hunger for the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit–bringing this out pouring into traditional denominations. Young people began to get saved during what . became known as the Jesus People Movement. Many of these young people were not familiar with the traditions of the church, but were hungry for God and His Word. Musicians began setting scriptures to music which promoted scripture memorization as well. They used instruments they for which they were familiar. It brought fresh life into the church and also controversy. New affordable technology of projectors and transparencies allowed people to display the words for everyone to see. For many it was an exciting new technology. Church boards discussed how to include them in their budgets. You were considered cutting edge if you used them instead of hymnals.
For others who did not live through the change it is hard to see the issue. Church splits occurred. People were divided whether they wanted contemporary worship versus traditional. There are some churches who compromised having two different services which meet both needs of their congregation. There are some who integrate both into their worship set–bringing the richness of hymns, maybe with an updated arrangement back into the service. For most people it is a non-issue now. But voices were loud and strong on this issue during that time. There was so much division in the church over this one issue.
Whose voice was right? Much of the rationale and fight for the contemporary dealt with how to reach our young people. There was a feeling if they did not update and go modern, they would lose their appeal to the younger generation. The other voice felt like they should not have to compromise and the young people should submit and conform to the old ways. Those two vying perspectives are still alive and well today. How far should we go to “entertain” our youth to get them to come where they can hear the gospel, versus invitation to a Bible Study presentation. The Holy Spirit must be the one who brings balance to our direction.
Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the Lord says, Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way and walk in it. Travel its path and you will find rest for your souls.
The question of course is what is the old, godly way? To me, it is any path that leads us to Jesus and His righteousness. It is a path to freedom from guilt and shame, that does not ensnare others in my freedom. I used to think the narrow path was like a tightrope–very difficult to walk. The Lord showed me it is wide enough to walk safely without fear of falling. I want my voice to lead people to this freedom in Jesus–helping them to lived loved and accepted by Him. I used to belong to a group who felt it was a sin for women to wear pants. I personally wasn’t convicted it was a sin, but because we were part of that organization we had to try to teach it. The Holy Spirit led us away from that belief and my girls were spared from the imposition that would have caused. Our voice went silent on the issue of pants, but not on the issue of the need for modesty. The bigger picture is still in play for my grand girls as well.
May the Holy Spirit continue to lead and guide us into the old trusted ways with His perspective. I am glad we can trust Him. Let us use our voices as much that lies within us to bring unity, grace and freedom based on His love.