When I was growing up, the church I was part of was offended by Christian music. According to the argument, worship only occurred in the church, without the use of instruments. Therefore, any music that DID use instruments was okay, as long as it was NOT intended to worship or praise God in any way. For instrumental music to offer thanks to God was for it to encroach on “God’s music”.
Thus, in a strange twist of logic, Christian music became the “devil’s music”. It was okay to listen to country, rock, or pop - just not Christian.
At the same time, I was hanging out with another group of very conservative Christians. But their conservatism was in the other direction - they believed that all “secular music” was sinful, and it was only appropriate to listen to explicitly Christian music.
I was in a very confusing situation.
Driving up to someone’s house with my radio tuned to the local Top 40 station would potentially earn me some looks and a reprimand. But to switch over to the local Christian station would offend others’ conscience.
Either way, I was straying outside the lines of what GOD considered appropriate.
This odd dichotomy was characteristic of how I grew up, and it forced me to think very hard about a lot of things. One question I asked myself was “what music is from God?”
I thought very hard. Who was behind the melodies of different genres of music? Who was behind the driving beats? Who was behind the lyrical cleverness I admired so much?
And it occurred to me that ALL of this was a creation of God. Just like Peter saw the unclean animals, and heard God tell him “eat!”, I realized that there was no dichotomy. There was no music of the devil - all of it was from God.
Every bit of a piece of music, from the rhythm to the chord progression, from the timbre of a singer’s voice to the words of their lyrics, comes from God. The fact that notes can come together to make chords, the way a rhythm resonates with you, our entire ability to appreciate another person’s musical creation - it’s entirely a gift from God.
Which is not to say that some music isn’t offensive or disturbing. But nothing can be disturbing or ugly without a reference point - a God-given beauty hidden inside it. Even if I don’t choose to listen to rap, r&b, or much country, I still have to acknowledge that the existence of any of those genres can only be traced to God.
In the middle ages, there was a theory called “The Ape of God”. The devil, the argument went, can only imitate what God has created. Therefore everything evil is simply a distorted imitation of something good. It was an insightful way to look at the world, and all the things attributed to Satan.
But it did not go far enough. There is nothing that a devil can create that God has not already made - no pleasure that can be created that God did not call into existence. Even if there is something horrendous and ugly, it is not even an imitation of God’s handiwork. An imitation of God’s creation can never escape the fact that only God allows its existence.
The devil himself can only exist because of God’s graciousness.
Everything that exists is from God. Look closely and see it.