“Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.” (Psalm 33:1)
I heard an incredible story on the radio the other day about a choir in Australia that is comprised completely of stroke victims. In many cases those choir-goers have little or no speech skills but amazingly they are still able to sing because music is processed in alternate parts of the brain from regular day-to-day speech. After one of their concerts a little girl approached her Grandfather, a member of the choir, and told him that it was the first time she had ever heard his voice.
Here’s a link to the story on pri.org.
Last year my wife and I went to a short Q&A interview session with N.T. Wright, one of the world’s leading New Testament scholars and by anyone’s account a true academic giant. He has spent the better part of the last 30 years writing about how Christians ought to read and understand the Bible, and has laid out pervasive academic defenses of his approach, usually 800 or 1000 pages at a time.
At that moment he was talking about how the Church’s practice of reading the Bible had become so unsubstantive and so rule-bound that it has essentially been driving an entire culture and at least one generation to at best apathy and at worst atheism.
Then in the Q&A section my wife Ali raised her hand and asked “So where is there Hope in the Church?” N.T. Wright, the poster-boy for modern Biblical scholarship/academia/being smart and having a concise scientific answer replied “In the arts.” That’s a direct quote. He backed that quote up with a lengthy defense, which you’ll have to take for granted, but to me, the source and the quote is a powerful argument in and of itself.
Writing, singing, dancing, painting, sculpting, crafting: you and I humans were made, from the ground up, from the inside out for creative endeavor. You were made by a creative God to unleash his creative love on the world. I’ll say it another way, as simply as I can: If you aren’t singing about God regularly you are not following God with your entire being (See Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36-40, perhaps the most basic summary of faith in the entire Bible.)
I’m convinced now more than ever that discipleship, evangelism, prayer, and every conceivable part of Christian life are fueled by and through creative worship. If you spend your whole life learning about God and a stroke takes your brain’s ability to process and make speech away, will you still be able to say the name of God out loud? Will you still be able to proclaim Jesus the King?
We have to take the time, make the effort to work the truth that Jesus is the King of the world into the deepest recesses of who we are, into the nooks and crannies, the un-accessible places of our brain, of our soul, of our world. We have to sing, dance, and sculpt that truth into those places.
And when the world finds itself apathetic and atheistic, whether we have the ability to talk to the world or not, a song will rise from our collective selves, a song proclaiming the truth that Christ is King. Maybe like the little girl at her Grandpa’s choir concert the world will hear the voice of the Gospel for the very first time.
Noah can be reached via email here.