There’s something stubborn about singing praise to God.
We live in a fallen world. Things are not as they ought to be. How can our mouths be filled with praise in the midst of so much darkness?
Yet we sing.
We sing because we once followed the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), but now the King has died for us and delivered us from the present evil age (Galatians 1:4).
We sing because “we know that we are from God,” even though “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
We sing because our King chose us out of the world (John 15:19), and his grace is “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12).
Paul and Silas were beaten for their faith and thrown in jail. And there, in the darkness, they sang (Acts 16:25). Then a great earthquake shook the jail like a great bass drum reverberates through sound waves and shakes your heart.
The foundations of the church building may not shake when you sing, but the battle cry of love ripples through eternity and is heard by an unseen audience.
As someone who can hardly carry a tune in a bucket, it helps me to remember what our associate pastor often says about our congregational singing. In his Sydney accent he says, “We’re singing to God, yes, but we are also singing truth to each other.”
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
We are a people stubbornly fixed on the things that are unseen. The world sees affliction as evidence that our God is silent or absent. The prince of the power of the air imagines that he is gaining ground that belongs to Christ. But we hold fast to what God’s word says,
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)
C. S. Lewis once described the Church as “through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners” (Screwtape Letters).
Keith Getty and Stuart Townend called the church, “An army bold whose battle cry is ‘Love!’ / Reaching out to those in darkness” (O Church Arise).
Maybe Buddy the Elf was on to something when he said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.”
We are spreading the news that death will be swallowed up forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from the earth, for the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 25:8). The mouth of the Lord has spoken it, and we sing it loud for all to hear.
Terrible as an army with banners, we’re a singing people on our way to the city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14).
May others hear our holy, stubborn song and join along.