Let me begin with two confessions.
(1) I do not like reality television.
(2) I sometimes find myself mindlessly watching reality television.
The Voice initially struck me as a weird singing competition. Four judges sit in swirling chairs with their backs to the performers. If they like what they hear, they push a button, the chair swings around, and above their heads a lighted sign appears that says, "I WANT YOU." Each judge forms a team of singers and slowly narrows the group down each week to a finale of one singer from each team.
Despite my raised eyebrow regarding the show's premise, I found myself enjoying the music, which provided great background noise for cooking dinner or relaxing on the couch after a long day. Even though I hadn't watched it in in over a month, a headline announcing a winner caught my eye this morning. Jermaine Paul, a former backup singer considered by many as an "underdog," had won the competition. I didn't remember much about Jermaine and started listening to some of his performances. One in particular from the finale made me stop and listen, not just to him sing, but to what Blake Shelton, one of the judges, said after his performance of "I Believe I Can Fly." He told Jermaine: "I've listened to that song a million times, but I don't think I really heard it until tonight." There was something about the way that Jermaine sang the song that allowed us not only to hear the words of the song but to see the words come from a place deep within him.
Why don't we sing like Jermaine in Sunday morning worship, as if every word on our lips mattered? When we look at the words to the old hymns and the spiritual power within them, why do we simply mutter the song? Familiar hymns like "How Great Thou Art" and "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" as well as less-familiar ones like "Here Oh My Lord I See Thee" abound with life! From the psalms to Paul's letters, Scripture commands us to sing whether or not we can carry a tune or hit a high note. We must sing and sing with all that we are to all that God is.
It's discouraging to think that a stage in Hollywood might have more passion for song than Christians do in a sanctuary. Tapping into God's holy energy requires a desire to do so. Do you want to sing in a way that people truly hear the words? Then let your voice be heard, not in competition but in consecration of the One who is worthy to be praised.
grace, peace, song, and all good things to you all,