By Pastor Scott Conner
Where do we get our joy? Our world likes to derail our joy. It provides us with many reasons not to be joyful. Everywhere we turn there is something that reminds us of brokenness. Many times, as Christ-followers, it feels like we are swimming upstream against the current of negativity and sadness the world throws at us. For me, as I grew up watching movies, television shows, and listening to music, I thought the world revolved around negativity and sadness. This negative mindset of mine was reinforced by the music I grew up listening to. From an early age I loved listening to music. It was my escape. In a small sense, it brought me some joy, but now, I take one glance at the lyrics and it is clear that most of the music I listened to speaks about brokenness. Some of my favorite secular music songs are about death, loneliness, and relationships gone wrong. Don’t get me wrong, the music was great, and I still listen to a wide variety of music today, but I have found a greater joy in worship music. When I am fighting for joy in my life as a Christ-follower, I turn to music. It takes my focus off the world and puts it on God, the source of all joy.
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise
Joy and the act of praising God through music are interlaced throughout scripture. Psalm 95 reminds us of the command to praise God through song and the reason for it. Nothing should bring a Christ-follower more joy than the good news of the Gospel.
Part of my journey into giving my life to Christ and giving my life to ministry can be traced to praise and worship music. Growing up, I had attended churches from time to time, I was even part of a youth group in my teenage years, but church music never really interested me. However, as a young adult, I can recall a week that I spent as a counselor at a junior high church camp where I experienced pure joy, aided by music, for the first time in my life. I had just started taking my faith seriously and found myself feeling underqualified to be a counselor, but I know God had me at that camp for a bigger reason.
I will never forget the joy that came out of our worship times that week. I had never, in church or in any youth group meetings I have attended, seen so many people joyfully singing together, joyfully performing all the actions of the songs, joyfully jumping up and down to the rhythm of the music. I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to express the pure joy in my heart that could only come from God, something I had never expressed before.This was a joy that wasn’t about me, wasn’t about those around me. It was a joy that came from knowing who God is. For once, I felt like I could express pure joy in my life. I felt the Spirit moving among everyone, the musicians, the other counselors, and especially the kids. That week, God was teaching me that I needed to have the simpler faith of a young person, and I did. I sang, and I danced along to that music with all my heart. One of the songs that we sang was “Undignified” by the David Crowder Band. It tells the story of King David, who danced freely in joy when the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). And that song, now one of my all-time favorites, epitomizes what worship music is for me. It’s about taking a moment to praise God, being undignified, despite all the negative we see in the world today. It doesn’t matter what is happening in our life, we need to praise God in every season, and worship music can help us with that. It’s no coincidence we still sing this song in the youth gatherings I lead today. It brings me great joy seeing a room full of kids singing, jumping, and dancing, all while experiencing joy in Jesus.
So, as we fight for joy in our lives, may we learn to turn to music that praises God, music that celebrates who God is and what He has done for us. In listening to music by yourself or singing with a group of people, may praises be part of our faith journey as we find joy in scripture, community, prayer, and many other areas of our lives. And yes, it’s even okay to get a little undignified once in a while as we praise Him with great joy.
For a list of Scott’s favorite worship songs, search for the playlist, “Scott’s Worship Songs” on Spotify.
Originally published in Gritty Faith Volume 15. Written by Pastor Scott Conner.