God’s Grace & Singing
While we should all be thankful for online services during this pandemic, they will never be able to replace our physical gatherings. There is a special manifestation of God’s presence that comes when God’s people gather together. God manifests his presence, and he extends his grace through the things we do while we are together.
Singing is one of the things that we can do online, but when we are not in the same room, we lose something important.
Read what Paul says in Colossians 3:16.
“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.”
Grace Comes Through The Word
Leading up to this verse, Paul has been instructing the Colossians regarding how they should live together. He instructs them to be loving and forgiving. Now, he charges them to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.”
The word of Christ is the gospel and how it applies to all of life. In the book of Colossians, Paul started with Christ and His work. Now, he is explaining how the Colossians should be living together in community, and how the gospel should be shaping their community.
Paul instructs the Colossians to let the gospel continue to dwell among them richly. In other words, they must continue to speak about, remember, and meditate on the gospel together. They must remember that they are forgiven. They must remember how Jesus laid down his life for them.
Just like the Colossians, we must let the word of Christ dwell among us richly. What does that mean? It means that the word of Christ must be abundant. It must be pervasive among us. It must be heard often and must be the centerpiece of our gatherings, our teachings, and our songs.
The word of Christ must not only dwell richly among us, but it must shape us as a people. As it dwells among us, it will change us. As we hear it taught from the pulpit, recite verses about it together, and sing it over one another, God promises to pour His grace out through it. This means that He will pour out his favor, His blessings, and His power to change us. God will grow our faith and make us look more like Jesus.
Preaching To One Another Through Singing
Paul gives some specific instructions about how we are supposed to let the word of Christ dwell among us richly. He tells the Colossians they should be “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”
There are two things we should note about these instructions. First, the language of “teaching and admonishing with all wisdom” is the same language that Paul uses in the first chapter (1:28) to describe his ministry of proclamation or preaching.
Second, the way they are supposed to teach and admonish one another is through singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We do not often think of singing this way, but singing songs is a very effective method for teaching.
So, Paul wants them to think about their congregational singing as a time when they are essentially preaching the truth to one another in the same way that their pastors get up and preach to them during the sermon. The preaching time is for one man to get up and lead the congregation in considering and applying the word of Christ. The singing time is for the congregation to collectively confess, declare, and dwell on the word of Christ as they hear it from one another.
So, when you sing on Sunday morning, you are preaching a sermon to your church family. In fact, we are all preaching the truth to one another. It is a chorus of sermons, which is why our congregational singing is often one of the most encouraging times of the morning.
Obviously, this is something we physically gather to do. We can all sing along with the worship team as we watch online services, but we cannot hear each other singing. Well, we can hear the other people in our living room (which I am sure is a blessing in some homes and more of a burden in others!), but we cannot hear the congregation. We cannot hear the chorus of voices declaring the word of Christ. We miss out on being reminded that hundreds of people are sitting right around us that are believing and resting in the same truths. This is not a small sacrifice. It is a major deficiency to our online gatherings.
This single reality of losing congregational singing should have us pleading with God to end this pandemic so that we can gather together for singing. God gave us congregational singing as a gift.
So, when we come back together, sing loud, listen to the voices around you, and thank God for this amazing gift. Take advantage of the opportunity to preach words of encouragement to your church family. Preach to the anxious, the depressed, the fearful, and the discouraged. Preach loud and preach with boldness that fits with the power of the word of Christ we sing.
Grace Comes Through Singing With Thankfulness In Our Hearts
Finally, Paul describes how we should be singing. We should sing with thankfulness in our hearts to God. We are to cultivate this thankfulness by considering the word of Christ that we are singing about. In other words, as we sing, we are supposed to be meditating on and enjoying the truths of the gospel with thankfulness.
This means that not only are we receiving grace when we hear our brothers and sisters singing the truths of the word, but we are receiving grace as we sing and meditate on those same truths.
Think of God’s amazing grace that comes through congregational singing. God’s grace flows from the leaders up front who remind us why we are singing, who pick gospel rich songs, and lead us to worship. God’s grace flows from your neighbors as they sing truth with hope and conviction. God’s grace flows from your thankful meditations as you consider all that Jesus has done for you and sing it out with passion for your church family to hear.
Again, I am grateful for our online services. They have been a precious gift from the Lord to carry us through this time of separation, but they are no substitute for gathering together as the people of God. Let us ask God to give us the wisdom to know how to continue to come back together as quickly and safely as possible.