While hot dogs done on a grill are fine, nothing is like a well cooked bratwurst, except maybe hamburgers. A juicy, thick hamburger cooked up on a grill really is one of the finer parts of life. Add some green peppers, onions, lettuce, sliced tomato and cheese all served on a whole wheat bun – now that’s a meal!
Have you ever asked yourself what is a hamburger without the hamburger? Sure, you have the bread, toppings etc, but without the meat, you might was well just have a salad.
This idea came to mind when I was thinking about a comment I heard from a friend of mine. They were explaining a recent church service when everything that normally occurred in their service was replaced with a concert. There wasn’t any sermon or message. There wasn’t even a Bible verse read directly from the Word although some verses were quoted by one of the singers.
They were so excited by the service and the large amount of people that attended – way more than normally find their way to that church on a Sunday morning. As they explained to me, “That was a great service!” Well maybe. But I rather look at it as the hamburger without the meat.
It is the Word that proclaims God’s message. Notice how the writer of Hebrews describes this:
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.- Hebrews 4:12
It is the Word in which we find God’s counsel, hear His voice and use to understand the world around us. It is His Word and the teaching of His Word which we should rally around and seek after.
Music is fine and Paul does tell us to “…admonish each other in psalms and hymns, spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16). But he starts out that same verse with “Let the Word of Christ dwell in your richly…” I have nothing against music and in fact love listening to, singing with and experiencing what we often call “worship” music. But it cannot replace the teaching of the Word.
Rather, music is like the toppings on a hamburger. It enhances the flavor making the experience even better. But without meat, you do not have a hamburger. Without the Word taught (you might prefer the term “preached”) you really don’t have a church service.
Don’t believe me? Here is the list of the activities the early church did when they gathered as described in Acts 2:42.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Notice anything missing? Along with announcements, printed bulletins, ushers and a host of other things, music isn’t mentioned.
Paul in his last directive to the young pastor Timothy tells him in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “Preach the Word!” He doesn’t say anything about music.
Please don’t misunderstand. I love music and I want it in church services. It does serve a place and as I mentioned earlier, Paul encourages its’ use as a group of believers gather. But it cannot supersede or supplant the Word. This is why the Worship Wars within churches are so destructive and useless. People arguing over what kind of music is played, but seem not to care at all if the Word is preached. It’s like arguing over whether a hamburger should have sweet onions or red onions. Expressing one’s personal preference is fine, as long as you still have the meat of the Word.
So, the next time you attend a service where it is more like a concert and the Word isn’t preached, know you’ve been short-changed. Your church sandwich was meatless – it may have been good. You may have enjoyed it. But you missed out on that “sharp two-edged sword” that you need to have.
All this talk about food… I think I’ll have burger tonight… with sweet onions.
Blessings my Friend!