I was talking the other day with a friend about the propriety of making fun of cheesy Christian music. We both agreed that there was a time when it was called for, and that there was a time when it was not called for at all. But where is that line, and how do we determine that line?
The principle first.
“I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: The humble shall hear thereof, and be glad” (Ps. 34:1–2, emphasis mine).
Whenever someone is praising the Lord, and they really are, the reaction of all those who hear should be gladness. My gladness in someone else’s praise is a mark of humility, especially if their manner of praising the Lord is not my cup of tea. That is the foundational principle, the one that Michal violated when she took offense at David dancing before the Lord (2 Sam. 6:16).
Nevertheless comma and at the same time, there are additional complications. When someone is offering praise up to God, and they are doing the best they can, is not their offering in the same place as the offering of the two mites from the widow (Mark 12:42)? But it gets complicated because it actually needs to be the best they can do.
“When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 1:8, ESV, emphasis mine).
I have seen people offer musical sacrifices to the Most High that they would not dream of attempting on America’s Got Talent. Their theory appears to be, not that God is infinitely majestic and therefore worthy of our utmost, but rather that God is infinitely forgiving, and therefore the people of God must allow me to bask in the narcissistic spotlight—because God will accept anything. I am doing this in church, which means that people have to let me get away with anything. Otherwise they have a critical spirit.
Part of the issue is the differential between what the person could offer and what they are in fact offering. If a small child is jabbering praise to God from the high chair, only a Pharisee would be censorious (Ps. 8:2). But suppose someone who was capable of far better than that decided to jabber in order to save on all that rehearsal time. Now what? The problem with Ananias and Sapphira was that they gave a portion of their goods while pretending they were giving all (Acts 5:1-3).
The Lord can receive the humblest of offerings. But is it a mark of humility to latch onto simplistic music, and then stubbornly refuse to get any better over 30 years? I say this acknowledging that a pure heart and three chords is precious in the sight of the Lord, and high level performance can be obnoxious to Him. Who required you to fill up my court with divas?
“Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; For I will not hear the melody of thy viols” (Amos 5:23).
Life, in other words, is complicated. I hope you got a chuckle out of the cartoon, but also remember, at the same time, that the queen of all repetition is a song from the Bible (Ps. 136).