Colossians 1.12-13 never mentions music, let alone church music, but it establishes a principle that dramatically impacts church music all the same.
I am saved. And I should be grateful to the Lord that I am saved for I certainly did not and still do not deserve saving. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. (Colossians 1.12) Further, this salvation not only allows me to partake of eternity's glory it also delivers me from the devil's power. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness. (Colossians 1.13) I am no longer under his curse or in his power; I am free. And here is the reason why: and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear son. (Colossians 1.13) Salvation ripped me out of the world and enmeshed me into the kingdom of God. Translated in the original language literally means "to move something from one place or sphere to another." As Enoch and Elijah of old, I have been removed from one kingdom – the power of darkness – and placed into another – the kingdom of his dear son. As such, God's people now owe their allegiance to and pledge their fealty to the God of Heaven. One kingdom, and one kingdom only demands their love and loyalty, their affection and devotion – Christ's kingdom.
Will someone please explain to me then why contemporary Christianity for the large part stridently insists on keeping one foot in the world?
The elder apostle said it this way toward the end of his life, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2.15) I do not have space within the constructs of one blog post to lay out for you a treatise on what the Bible teaches about worldliness. For the moment, suffice it to say that Scripture teaches that the world is a bad thing, and that Christians are to avoid it. In this context the problem inherent in contemporary Christian music's roots and institutional makeup is a desire to chase the world, to be as much like the secular music world as possible.
For example, consider the following, which are are actual reviews of CCM concerts found in the pages of websites and magazines:
The pulsating techno music builds to a deafening crescendo as space-age-sounding zaps punctuate the heavy bass and drum beat. Red and green laser lights etch twisting torsos against blackened walls as coloured glow sticks slice through manufactured fog. Two hundred teens, ages 14-18, have come to dance to cutting-edge house, trance, and jungle music, while light patterns of 'gobos' and 'moonflowers' wash the room in a bright array of colour.
The crowd was stoked and ready to rock as the music started to play and the audience could still only see the silhouettes of the band members behind a pale illuminated curtain. Stuart worked the fans into a frenzy when he left the stage.
At the first chords, the crowd began pogo-jumping in unison to the crisp guitar, driving rhythm and sweet harmonies. A funky, retro spiral light projector swirled behind the band, accentuating the hipness already fighting the fog machine for control of the room's atmosphere. Owen dedicated the next song 'to the ladies.' The laid-back southern groove brought the crowd back to a head-bobbing frenzy.
Offering the best that 'crunk' rock has to offer, the five-piece masters of fun moved the crowd with their intriguing show, leaving quite an impression. The lead vocalist encouraged the crowd to make some noise as they performed a personalized cover of Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.'
I realize these are reviews of concerts and not church services, but the fact is that as music such as this is promoted and embraced by the wider American Christian world it begins to bleed over into the actual church services themselves. Rick Warren on the platform of his church during a service, in a jocular mood one day, broke into Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" and was immediately backed up by the house band. Hillsong New York recently sent Times Square's The Naked Cowboy out to warm up the crowd for a recent women's meeting. There is a comfort, a union between CCM and the world. Like old friends they are at ease together. For most of contemporary Christianity there is now very little barrier between what is the predominant culture in the world and what the church likes and acts like.
This is driven by CCM's embrace of worldly musical styles, and aggravated by contemporary Christianity's fascination with aping modern movies and television shows for sermon material. The world's entertainment has now become a prime mover in the contemporary American church.
For a moment, let me address myself to those who read this blog who regularly attend such churches and find nothing wrong with this approach. I want you to ask yourself a question and then answer it honestly. When is the last time you heard a sermon against worldliness? No, rolling your eyes at me does not release you from answering the question, and the fact you rolled your eyes at me proves my point. You have not heard a sermon urging God’s people to beware of and avoid the world since you walked away from the independent Baptist church you grew up in, have you? You left all that "baggage" behind when you found the "grace and liberty" of the contemporary movement. Right. Contemporary Christianity cannot preach against worldliness for the entire culture on which it is built embraces it.
This puts God's people in such churches in both an awkward and a dangerous place. It is awkward because these two kingdoms are diametrically opposed to each other. Like the trick cowboy rider standing on the saddles of two different horses such Christians endure nothing but difficulty. It is dangerous because at some point those horses are going to pull away from each other and the rider while choosing one or the other will probably fall.
Contemporary Christian music drives its churches to embrace the very world from which Christ's salvation translated it away. And that, beloved, is a tragedy.