Fear motivates us because it is fueled by what we desire. As David Powlison explains,
“Fear and desire are two sides of a single coin. A sinful fear is a craving for something not to happen. If I want money, I fear poverty. If I long to be accepted, I’m terrified of rejection. If I fear pain or hardship, I crave comfort or pleasure. If I crave preeminence, I fear being inferior to others…[fear and desire] are complementary expressions of cravings on earth.” (in Seeing with New Eyes)
Looking at it another way, sinful fear is not a lack of confidence. It is misplaced confidence. Fear of failure, for example, says that I’m confident that success will make me happy. Fear of what others will think of me suggests I’m confident that man’s approval will satisfy my heart’s desires.
Too often, I think that the feeling of fear or “fear itself” is the problem and I work to eliminate it. But I will always desire something. As long as my deepest desire rests in something or someone other than God Himself, simply working to eliminate fear serves no good purpose. In fact, it will breed other types of sin. George MacDonald writes:
“Persuade men that fear is a vile thing, that it is an insult to God, that he will none of it—while they are yet in love with their own will and slaves to every movement of passionate impulse and what will the consequence be? That they will insult God as a discarded idol, a superstition, a thing to be cast out and spit upon. After that how much will they learn of him?” (Quoted by John Piper)
Fear, like desire, has a place in a Christian’s earthly life. Both remind us that life as we know it now is incomplete and imperfect. But unlike sinful fear which chokes and cripples, godly fear re-orients our hearts toward Christ — the author and perfecter of our faith. John Piper writes,
“The point after which fear will have no proper place in the Christian’s life is the point at which his love is perfected. But none of us is yet perfected in love; none of us is without moments in which his delight in God fades and the “things which are seen” become deceptively attractive…the fear that we are to feel as Christians is itself a work of grace. It is a fear which casts us back into love for God and trust in his mercy, and thus destroys itself. Fear is the proper servant of love for imperfect saints.”
September 10, 2010 1 Comment
In response to a recent post on church music teams, Wendy asked the following question:
I visited a church once who, I learned, ‘hires’ their Sunday morning musicians to play. They are professional musicians — hired because they are awesome musicians, and not necessarily Christian. Shouldn’t those who serve in the church be followers of Christ?
In order to answer this question, the first thing to consider is, “Why does a church meet?” My understanding from Scripture is that a church meets primarily to worship God together and build one another up in the faith (1 Corinthians 14). While a church may engage in other activities (i.e. evangelizing, helping the needy, etc.) the regular Sunday morning gatherings are meant for believers who understand Christ’s work on their behalf and wish to glorify God for who He is and what He has done. Non-believers are certainly welcome — Paul mentions that gatherings should be intelligible to them (1 Cor. 14:24-25). But if they do not have the Holy Spirit, they are unable to truly participate in worship (1 Cor. 12:3).
The next question is, what role does music and the music team play in a church meeting? Music in a worship service is not for entertainment — it is fundamentally to help believers think about and engage with God and His word (Eph. 5:19) and admonish/edify one another (Col. 3:16). To this end, the music team is essentially helping to lead a spiritual activity. The 9Marks website describes this task well:
Leading the church through singing and playing music is a kind of diaconal service, whether or not the people in the position have been formally affirmed as deacons. It’s diaconal in that musicians employ their common grace skills in order to serve the church for larger spiritual ends … a church should choose musicians whose lives will commend the gospel. After all, the musicians are leading and representing the church publicly, which means they’re representing Christ publicly. (cf Acts 6:1-6 )
So in short: yes, I believe church musicians should be Christians who desire to use their gifts to serve their fellow believers. This doesn’t mean that Christians can’t worship God through the art/music of unbelievers (they can and do) — but I don’t think the church service is the place for that.
- Worship Matters: Non-Christians on the Worship Team
- Don Whitney: 10 More Ways to Improve Your Church Worship Service
- 9Marks Q&A on Corporate Worship
(Photo: Brian Petersen)
August 28, 2010 No Comments
“It is impossible to love what is entirely unknown, but when what is known, if even so little, is loved, this very capacity for love makes it better and more fully known.”
Quoted in John Piper’s The Legacy of Sovereign Joy, p. 69.
August 8, 2010 No Comments