The Gift of Music: Common Grace and Common Ground - page 2


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From the Winter 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

The Gift of Music: Common Grace and Common Ground

by Randy Newman, Ph.D.
Senior Teaching Fellow for Apologetics and Evangelism,
C.S. Lewis Institute

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  C.S. Lewis helped me see that Jesus was the Messiah I was looking for at those devotional times with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He was the one who could satisfy when Brahms could not. His sacrifice provided the open door to “the other world” to which O Mio Babbino Caro pointed. I resonated with Lewis’s observation from The Weight of Glory,

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.2

Music is a great gift but a poor god. As such, it is an example of God’s common grace, which He can use for our good. I’m using the term common grace to refer to all those many blessings that God sends to all people, saved and unsaved. Just as He “sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45 NIV), so He provides beautiful music, delicious food, breathtaking sunsets, laughter, friendship, and so many other blessings for all people—whether they acknowledge the source or not. Music can also serve as common ground in our efforts to connect with nonbelievers. They love music too and may be looking to music to provide more than it can. Perhaps they have experienced a similar disappointment to what I felt after all those orchestra concerts.

Common Grace

  Here are just four ways music can work as common grace in the lives of all people, both believers and nonbelievers.
  First, music can connect us to beauty, which could remind us of the way God originally created the world—good, without the ravages and damages of sin and the fall. For believers, music can prompt deeper worship of the God who created all things merely by uttering words. (Note that God used sound to create!) It can expand our appreciation for God’s creative acts and help us see His handiwork in all places—physical beauty, signs of order or design, and many other “natural” things that really are remarkably supernatural.

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