I probably just offended a few Christians out there, sorry that was not my intent, let me get to the point. I have a problem with certain types of music that has become exclusive. By this I mean Christianity isn’t a show in which we sell tickets and make money. U2 once wrote in one of their songs, “Then they put Jesus in show business, now it’s hard to get in the door.” (If God will Send His Angels, 1997) Is it hard for outsiders to hear the gospel of Jesus in some of the “Religious” music today?
I like what Jon Foreman, singer/song writer of ‘Switchfoot’ said when asked if their band was a “Christian” band; “…There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty. Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music. None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer...” (http://ctkblog.com/2013/12/05/why-switchfoot-wont-sing-christian-songs/)
“Christian” music shouldn’t be a label that bands slap on themselves to sell records, it should be a lifestyle no matter if they fill stadiums or play in churches. I think there’s a misnomer that if you don’t make it big on a secular label one can just “crossover” and produce mediocre tunes and still be successful…I honestly don’t think that mentality is truly an effective source of genuine evangelism.
1. Get out of the bubble:
I applaud musicians who see the world around them as Jon does. There shouldn’t be a schism in our society that differentiates and divides. I recognize the need to be “set apart” as Christians, but does that mean that we should also be separated and exclusive in our music too? Understandably there are certain forms of music that are foul in language and sexual in nature that we should avoid. This isn’t about worship music on Sunday mornings either, this is about how we perceive the world around us and breaking down the walls of an “Us against Them” mentality.
We can’t build walls around the Christian church, if anything Jesus came to tear down those walls. Sometimes I get frustrated with the “Christian bubble” affect that Christian music has on people. You know the old phrase “don’t become so heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good”? This is exactly what happens, in my opinion, when all that we live and breathe is the Christian radio station in our cars. This is what happens when our worldview becomes so small that it just includes the four walls of our church and our homes. God has a bigger outlook on His people than just for the purpose of insulating themselves in the bubble of the “Christian world”.
If we are to be His mouthpiece in the world we have to be willing to step out of our little bubbles and stop looking at “non-Christians” as “Them”…we’re all people who have been created by a mighty God and He loves people and He longs for a restored relationship with ALL people! His desire is that all will hear of His amazing love.
2. Don’t Disguise Jesus:
I am not saying we shouldn’t proclaim His name either. We shouldn’t have to dress up Christ in a disguise in order to fool people into listening to “Christian” music either, and I don’t think that Bands like Switchfoot do this. Jesus doesn’t need a disguise in order to fit into the lives of any who are lost in this world. Jesus wasn’t bothered by the social norms and constraints of the Ancient Jewish customs and neither would He be in our day and age. God doesn’t get stuck in our socially accepted roles and rules, He is above them and He sees how things should be not how things are right now. Jesus doesn’t need a disguise and will work through the hearts of those who are genuine and real. He will work In the hearts of those who have a real passion to reach the lost, the poor, the hurting. We can’t box God in and say that He doesn’t love “those” people because He is still seeking and willing to save anyone who needs Him.
3. Dear Musicians, Lay off the cheesy lyrical cliches of “Christianese”
I am trying not to offend anyone, but there are some annoying Christian lyrics out there being played on the radio today. For example, “If you don’t know what to say, just say “Jesus”…” Are you kidding me? Is that the best we can do? How is that reaching out to those who have never heard the truths and love of God? Sorry, my critical side is showing and I’m sure I will receive some feedback on this, but any genre of music should make the attempt to produce quality music and not settle for the (churchy) old, tired cliches. From an outsider’s perspective it just comes across as cheesy and who wants to listen to something thrown together that doesn’t even come close to the level of quality listeners come to expect in modern music?
Don’t compromise the message, but also don’t settle for mediocrity either. In all things we ought to strive for excellence and keep the passion to reach a dying world at the forefront of our mission. Christ came for the whosoever not the “whatever”. He still longs for His people to actively engage in relevant evangelism so that the truth of His Word can penetrate hurting hearts, but we can’t rely on tired old cliche’s that no one understands to deliver that message.
In a nutshell:
I listen to all kinds of music. I enjoy many, many genres, and I don’t want to place myself in an unbreakable Christian bubble as I look out into the “outside” world. We all are called to step out and be available to show His love to anyone we can reach. We can’t compartmentalize our Church life from our social life…It’s all life and there is a real mission to fulfill in it. This is more than just music, this is the great commission and we can not afford to waste our time living in an exclusive world while millions die without seeing the real, tangible Christ in our walks of faith and in the words we say and live out loud.
To quote again one of my favorite bands – U2 “There is no them, there’s only Us” (Invisible, 2013)
-Just a thought.
***Disclaimer: It’s not that I don’t listen to “music with a message” or Christian music, it’s that I long for a deeper more impacting quality of music in the Christ-following realm that is played on radios. I love the Lord with all my heart and I want to serve Him the best that I can, but I also don’t want to cheapen that relationship by settling for a poor quality of music. Long story short, I’m a music snob…sorry about that!***