Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.
When I was in high school, I was in a group called “Sound Express”. It was a swing choir, and we sang pop songs with choreography. We did Sunshine Pop songs like “Up, Up and Away,” “Windy’” and “Downtown.” In 1968, our theme song became “Make Your Own Kind of Music”. That was the year the Will-O-Bees came out with their recording of that song, and of course, Mama Cass made it a hit the next year.
That song has been on my mind, so I needed to sing it this week. The message is that each person is unique, and we are encouraged to be ourselves. Every child God creates is unique. We may look similarly to others, think similarly, but our God is a creative hand-crafting master and not a mass-producing copycat.
That is why God is called Creator, and not our Divine Duplicator. In Isaiah 43:19 God says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” As His children, He instills in us the capacity to create, not just to reproduce, but to create newness; things never seen or heard before.
God guides us to release the old and embrace the new. The reason is that we are made new in Christ. We are taught in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
God is infinitely creative, and the instinct to be creative is passed on to us. Although God is the original poet, artist, architect, writer, and so on, we walk in His spirit of love and interests. We are told to “sing a new song” in Psalm 96:1-2: Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.”
To sing can also be interpreted as a metaphor for expressing God through us in general. To sing to God is to express our love, joy, and talents to benefit of all His children. It is a metaphor for how we live our life. 1 Corinthians 14:15 asks, “Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.” We are to convey God through our hearts and minds, from the inspiration of Spirit and the understanding of our minds.
When we do this, we reveal a new God-perspective and not the common viewpoint of the world. We gain a new understanding of Christ, and new revelations of Spirit. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds and become what God created us to be, not an imitation of someone else, but a unique expression of God.
That can be exciting and frightening at the same time. As Christians, we learn to focus clearly on Christ and the path he intends for us to walk. If we lose focus and succumb to the directions of the ego the song we sing can be cacophonous, unpleasant, hurtful, and derisive. Not all music is usable by God, just like not all actions are productive.
God loves all His children so guides us and teaches us how to behave, think, speak, and create through the example of Jesus Christ. Our talents are to reflect the Fruits of Spirit, which are: Charity, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Modesty, Self-Control, and Chastity.
To maintain our focus, walk the path of Christ, and create productively and beneficially in this world, we are told in Philippians 4:8 to – “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
If the music, visual arts, dance, drama, and theatre we are creating are not inspired by, and imbued with, these qualities, then we are not expressing what God made us to be. If our life does not reflect the true and honorable, pure and lovely, admirable and praiseworthy, then we are off track - still loved by God, but not walking in the Light and Peace of Christ.
That is what the song “Make Your Own Kind of Music” says to me. We are unique and our music will be ours alone, springing from our hearts, minds, and souls, and born of our talents, gifts, and perspectives. As we learn, grow, and transform, so will the music of our lives. In essence, we are constantly singing a “new song” to God, evolving as the love of Christ shapes us.
In Isaiah 64:8 we are told: But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. God is always molding us, changing us, and making us more to His creative inkling. We may not know God’s purpose, but God is using us to do His will and benefit others.
As we “make our own kind of music,” we must realize that whatever we are producing today will not be the same as yesterday or tomorrow. God’s love constantly enriches our creativity, and God loves whatever music we intend as praise and glory to Spirit. But to say that God hates some music is an error. It is like behaviors: God is refining our actions, our output, and our inner motivations. Just because someone likes punk rock, classical, or some other type of music that we don’t care for, doesn’t mean that God finds it abhorrent. He may be using that music or set of beliefs as a way to guide, teach, and change that person and others.
We all start somewhere, and we make progress as we go. Our challenges in life are many, but include these two ideas: First, we are to develop ourselves the best we can to what God has created us to be. And this changes along the way as we grow into God’s plans for us. This is an important message to us in this church. Many of us are in the Autumn of our lives. We think we have sung our last song, and we’ve packed up our guitars and keyboards and put them in storage. But God is not done with us yet.
The second idea is that of accepting everyone else right where they are. Like us, they are fully engaged in God’s plan for them, whether they are aware of it or not. Like us, they are not done yet. Like us, they are loved by God just the way they are, and God expects us to love them like He loves us … just the way they are.
This is not easy, but it is expected of us. We don’t have to like someone else’s style of music, but we are expected to love them for being willing to make whatever kind of music they are capable of right now. And no, we are not to expect other people to love our style of music. We are told to love our neighbor; we are not told to expect our neighbor to love us.
Philippians 4:9 says, “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Paul tells us to keep practicing these lessons; keep implementing these ideas into our lives. They are demanding and require effort – and practice, like making music or living a spirit-filled life.
It’s easy to live a worldly life. No effort required. We just do whatever we want without regard to anyone else. That is not the path of Christ. A spirit-filled life demands that we pay attention to everyone else – that we love everyone else, that we think on things other than ourselves, our desires, our comforts, our goals, and our needs. It takes effort and willingness to improve our attitude and adjust our demeanor toward others through acceptance and non-judgment. But that is what we are being asked to do, with practice.
So, it is my prayer that we ‘make our own kind of music’ and be our unique God-created selves while accepting and loving all others right where they are. God loves us all, whether naughty or nice, and because God loves us, we are being shaped and molded into more than we ever thought possible.