Singing Off Key :: By Grant Phillips

As a youngster growing up in church, I regularly sang in the adult church choir along with a half dozen or so of my friends during those days. From about twelve to fourteen years of age until we graduated from high school, we were regular participants in the choir. I think we all enjoyed those times, and during those four to six years in the choir, our voices even improved to the point that some of us would sing specials.

There was one guy our age however who was tone deaf. He sang off key. He was not in tune … ever. Even though I hated to be the one who might occasionally have to stand beside him (because he would pull me off key), I admired him for being faithful. He really stuck with it. Amazingly, to me anyway, by the time we were seniors in high school, he actually became a decent singer, rarely off key. Now you had to be there to appreciate what I’m saying. He really came a long way in his singing.

By this time you probably think that I am going to write about harmonizing. We should all be in harmony with each other in other words. Nope. I’m going the other direction. We need to sing off key.

When it comes to our Christian witness before a fallen world we have been in harmony with the world far, far too long. Actually, in my humble opinion, we crossed the line with God years ago in harmonizing with the world. We picked our spot on the musical cleft of life, whether soprano, alto, tenor or bass, and have blended in nicely with the music the world chooses for us to sing. Maybe if we had been singing off key the past sixty years or so, we would not be in the spiritual mess we are in today in this immoral quagmire we find ourselves in today.

The world doesn’t want any waves in the waters of life. It longs for smooth sailing. Well, by and large, we have appeased the world. We haven’t even caused a ripple. Occasionally, there have been lone voices speaking out for God over the years, but they have largely been drowned out by others who have followed the pied piper down the broad road of destruction.

As a former President was prone to say, “Let me make this perfectly clear,” I am not implying that Christians should behave in an un-Christian manner, overtly trying to cause dissention. We can stand up for Jesus Christ and His Word in a calm, loving manner without reciprocating in kind. The point is, no matter how lovingly we may stand by the Truth, it is going to cause friction with those who are not of Christ. To them, we will not be in harmony with their beliefs and I assure you the Truth of God does not sing in harmony with the world. It will most certainly be off key, as far as the world is concerned.

Jesus had this to say:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39)

As I indicated earlier, we don’t need to be antagonistically inclined. We can be compassionate and loving, but firm in our stance for Jesus Christ. That alone will cause us to be hated, vilified and mocked. Why? Jesus tells us why.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

Most of us who call ourselves Christians have kowtowed to the ways of the world without even a whimper of, “Thus saith the Lord.” As I previously noted, I believe it is too late now for this world to avoid judgment from God, and it is coming. At least though, before Jesus removes His Church, we the Church (the bride) need to grow a backbone and stand up for the Word of God while there is still time to do so. I don’t know when Jesus is coming, but I do know He can come any day. We need to make use of the time remaining and warn those around us of one very important message; i.e. we are sinners, we need to be saved, and Jesus is the only way to be saved.

The Lord tells us in His Word, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) I believe with all my heart that if we just share His Word with those who are willing to listen, the Holy Spirit will do the rest. It isn’t up to us to persuade. It is only up to us to share.

The world around us is rapidly disintegrating and becoming quite hostile toward anyone who would dare speak the Truth. It hates Jesus and all He stands for, and that includes His followers … Christians. Just as a person singing off key grates the nerves of those close by, so the world will be offended in our relaying the message of the cross, but can we do any less if we are a true disciple of Jesus Christ?

Think about this simply as an example of harmonizing with the world. The world has taken the word “love” and made all the instruments and all the voices join in harmony. It sounds beautiful, but there’s a problem. Jesus spoke of “love” too, but His Greek word “love” is “agape.” The world chooses the Greek word “eros.” “Agape” refers to a selfless love as per John 3:16. “Eros” is a sexual love, which is supposed to be between a husband and wife (male and female).

So what’s the problem you say? The problem is that the world uses “eros” to condone homosexuality, sex outside marriage, etc. as “lifestyles” that should be accepted because “God is love.” However, God’s Word does not condone these acts and His love is “agape” not “eros.”

If we agree with the world, we are in harmony with the world. Everything goes smoothly and we are accepted. However, if we agree with God, we’re singing off key and causing disruption. We are not accepted by the world. So what do we do?

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

Grant Phillips


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