I sit at my daughter’s piano lesson pondering the power of music. We spend an enormous amount of time and money on music. There is little that can dive to the depths of a person’s spirit as quickly and as thoroughly. It flows naturally from people of all cultures and times. Music appears to be the very sound of a person’s soul. What was God thinking that he would weave music into the fabric of humankind?
Make no mistake, music is theological. The largest book of the Bible is nothing more than an ancient songbook. Frequently in scripture people write songs when good things happen. Scripture’s images of heaven all include music. Musical instruments are strewn throughout scripture. The book of the Bible that focuses on human sexuality is called a song. And from the inauguration of formal worship music has taken a primary role. God is very interested in my music.
But I’m not convinced that music is simply about worship. Worship is an important direction to channel the sound of my soul, but that is not its limit: there are many roads music may travel appropriately. I think that for God music is about passion. And since music is woven into the fabric of my very being it has the ability to reach deep down to my core and arouse passion in a unique and extremely powerful way: passion to laughter or passion to tears; passion to excite or passion to subdue; passion to courage or passion to fear. The sound of my soul is the sound of passion unleashed, manifesting in countless ways.
What then shall I say, for if music is the unleashing of the passion of my soul then to what ends will that passion be unleashed? Certainly this world has learned to arouse those passions in harmful and destructive ways, leading me down the road of aggression, down the road of the objectification of the companion gender, down the road of the glorification of self, down the road of idolatry. Few of humankind’s passions are worthy of the divine without intervention.
God has created me with a mechanism to tap into and unleash my passion almost immediately. It is my responsibility to control how that mechanism is used. Like most things in life, music is neither inherently good nor inherently evil. I can allow music to arouse within me the beautiful, the sublime, the transcendent, or I can allow it to arouse the sensual, the hostile, and the mundane. I am not without recourse—I decide what will be unleashed from within me; I decide what sound my soul will make. I may be vulnerable to music’s power, but I am not helpless to control the ends to which that power is used. Scripture indicates that the worthwhile end is to unleash that passion for righteousness.
So play on my sweet daughter, and use your music for good!