Our family hosts a college Bible study for our congregation each Thursday in our home. A capable young man, a recent graduate himself, leads the study. Souls are being attracted through the study of God's word and the earnest love of the saints. Last Thursday night, I arrived home and peeked in to see our living room filled with over twenty young adults. My heart brimmed with gratitude to see them hungry for the word of God. They sing a Psalm at the beginning and end of each study. The leader observed privately afterward that this group is one of the weakest singing groups of which he has ever been a part. “We really sound bad,” he said. I’ve heard them sing, and I concur.
We quickly reviewed the possible reasons for this cacophony. First, the raw vocal talent of this group might hover somewhere south of average. But, more significantly, some in attendance do not yet believe in Christ. Some are brand new Christians, converted through street evangelism. Others are rapidly growing young Christians. Many of the rest were raised on a diet of praise songs characterized by the stereotypical “four notes, three words, two hours.” A minority grew up singing the Psalms.
Those who may have never sung before are starting to sing. So, do you hear it? The stumbling singing is a mark that God is at work! Construction sites are noisy places, but they are also exciting places. New buildings go up, and the landscape changes daily as the crew makes progress. The Master Builder is at work, and lives are changing. The sound of spiritual construction traffic is music to my ears.
The good news is Jesus is present at this study. Furthermore, Hebrews 2:11 tells us that he is not ashamed to call these his brothers – and then it attributes the words of Psalm 22 as the words of Jesus: “in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” He unashamedly sings inspired praise with lousy singers, even as we desperately long for improvement.
Of course, as Redeemer, he is also redeeming our praise. That gives us confidence that the singing will improve as we follow Jesus. Concrete steps for improvement of praise in this Bible study group are in the works, and they will work – because “he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” So, pray for this study, and stay tuned. In the end, it’s going to sound perfect.