There is a popular contemporary gospel song by Amy Grant named "Better than a Hallelujah." The basic premise of the song is the sounds God prefers to hear may not be our "hallelujah," but rather "a lullaby in a mother's tears in the dead of night," or "the soldier's plea not to let him die." This got me to thinking about our relationship with the Lord, and if we ever slow down long enough to ask what He prefers in our prayer life, in our church services, or in our daily life, or do we simply give whatever WE want to give, and expect Him to just accept it?
When we plan our worship service at church, do we pause to consider, "is this what God wants to happen?" When we speak to others, do we ever have the thought cross our mind, "would God be pleased with the tone I just used?" What sound does God like to hear? I am convinced through Scripture that He does indeed love the "hallelujah," for He "inhabits the praise" of His people. But are there other noises we should learn to utilize that God loves to hear even more? I think it would do us well to consider a few other sounds.
The longer I walk with the Lord, I am more and more convinced that He is abundantly concerned about how we treat one another, not just how we treat Him. Paul, writing to Christians in Rome, encouraged them to practice a God-pleasing act of "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." I know we know how to rejoice when some blessing comes our way, and we certainly know how to weep when we hurt, but God loves the sound of us bearing the burdens and sharing the celebrations of others. There is so much venom in the world today. Too many have nothing positive to say, nothing loving ever comes out of their mouths, and they are constantly condemning the actions of others. The sound that God loves to hear is when we reach beyond our own needs, our own preferences, and opinions, and can become excited for other people's celebrations, and hurt when others suffer. God loves to hear us love one another! When we speak encouraging, uplifting, and strengthening words to and about others, and refuse to criticize, berate, and discourage anyone.
For all of our bragging about church being a hospital for the hurting, all of the commitment to doctrine, theological assumptions, and catchy phraseologies in the world won't heal a broken heart like showing the love of Christ. Hurting people will venture to the house of God looking for refuge from the battering they take elsewhere. What sounds greet them? Do they hear love resounding from the rafters? Or do they hear Christians attacking each other, and tearing other churches or ministries down? God understands the damage that this causes, and that's why He instructs us to "love our neighbor as ourselves." The instrument God loves to hear most is not the masterful pianist, the skilled organist, or even the harp playing of David, it's the sound of love, one for another. Church can be the most therapeutic place on earth, or it can be a breeding place for condemnation, belittling, and haughty looks. If we practice the language of love as dogmatically as we do our choir renditions and our solos, or if we are equally fearful of a hitting the wrong note in our conversations with others as we are into a microphone, we may be providing God with the concert He really values.
If we really desire the "words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight," then we may have to learn a new song, one that may not come natural to us, but is music to God's ears!
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)