|Volume 20 Number 8 August 2018||
This phrase came from the apostle Paul’s pen, and it was directed to the church at Corinth. He wrote, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name” (1 Corinthians 1:13-14). Paul wrote this statement to emphasize a point. Christians serve one Lord and Master—one Lawgiver. The One who died on the cross for their sins (1 Corinthians 1:13) and in whose name they were baptized was Jesus Christ alone. Christ is not divided, and Christians should not be divided either.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote:
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)
The unity of Christianity is found in these “Ones.” Humbly, we are to endeavor to keep that unity intact. We are to serve one another and not usurp Christ’s position.
If we have one doctrine, one hope, one faith and one baptism—all originating with one Lord—then, we ought to have unity. Yet, why is there so much division? Today, division exists for the same reason there was a division in Corinth. Men follow other men instead of following Christ.
I admonish you as Paul admonished Corinth, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ…” (1 Corinthians 11:1-3). Following a man’s example and doctrine is only acceptable when that example and doctrine match the example and doctrine of Christ. Please, “…[search] the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [are] so” (Acts 17:11).
How Do You Worship in Song?
When brethren assemble to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (acapella), varied stages, levels and responses regarding worship may unfold. Sister Silence may not sing at all, nor does she open a songbook to gain the richness, benefits and responsibilities the message of the song offers. Brother Bewildered who has only been “in Christ” for two months, may properly mouth the words, but he has no or limited comprehension of biblical terms, metaphors and figures of speech that make up the beautiful message in the song. He did not—could not—follow Paul’s pattern to “sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). On the other hand, Brother Familiar, who stated he had sung that song 100 times, sung every verse clearly, but failed miserably to “make melody” in his heart “to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Two hours later, he would have been unable to tell you what songs were sung at the worship service. Sister Sing-It, who knows music, has a good voice and loves to sing, blares out every stanza of every song, but not once was she mindful of Paul’s charges, “speak to one another” or “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) when singing. Brother Disappointed, who asked the song leader to lead his favorite song (and he didn’t), mumbled through the song service, surely failing in heart to “sing with the spirit” (1 Corinthians 14:15). Brother and Sister Worship have prayed and prepared, singing “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), helping to keep the rest of us together! Where are you in this survey?
What Needs to be Done?
Increase the worship-in-song training. In 2001, I taught for a semester at Nigerian Christian College (Ukpon—out in the bush). Jacob, a young man seeking training to better preach the Word, was fabulously gifted in music. Once a week, in chapel, he taught the faculty and students a new song. Special attention was first given to the message of the song. He, then, carefully hummed the melody and sang a verse or two. Finally, he would have us sing with him, maybe singing each verse two or three times. It was amazing how much he could accomplish in 30 to 45 minutes. In extra-curricular moments, he worked with gifted students, forming a splendid acapella chorus group.
In most congregations there is a person (or persons) who have had music training. Challenge him or her to spiritualize the heart, prepare material on music markings and sight reading, helping brethren privately and publicly to meaningfully sing with the spirit and the understanding. Maybe have an annual singing school for a week, exhorting each member to attend.
Let each member crave personally to worship better in song (1 Peter 2:2). This may be a case of “you have not because you ask not” (James 4:2). Get off in a corner and sing the song by P.P. Bliss, “More Holiness Give Me.” The key word in that song is “more,” found 24 times. In an outline, I connected 58 passages of Scripture with the one song!
For the present, remember the illustration of the rooster that had an ostrich egg, used its beak to roll it into the chicken yard, hopped atop it and sincerely cried out, “Now Ladies, I don’t want to rebuke you, embarrass you or discourage you. Just look it over and do the best you can!” Seek for deeper devotion to Him Divine and His directives.