Throughout history Christians have cared a great deal about the sufferings of others. They have worked hard to eradicate problems like hunger, poverty, slavery, and injustice in all corners of the globe as they have preached the gospel. While not ever removing all of these problems, Christians today are still at the forefront of such concerns. Yet it’s also strange how these issues, and other really important issues of the times, sometimes take a back seat for easier and more convenient enemies.
It seems that Christians have for many years been vigorously opposed to secular music and musicians. Throughout the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and perhaps to a lesser extent, the 90’s, some ministers, pastors, evangelists, etc. have taken on some kind of special mission to preach against music, and the culture around them. We still hear messages today about the evil abounding in the world around us. While possibly helpful, in my view this has also resulted in Christians becoming afraid of an active engagement, and of meaningful dialogue with the world around them. Our witness becomes less effective, as we withdraw further and further into our little spiritual cocoons, safely out of reach of the wicked world outside.
It seems to me that music, film, and popular culture are a good target for the Christian preacher. After all, they’re safely out of reach, and seem to be the reason behind many of the world’s ills. It’s not too difficult or demanding to preach up a storm about Rock music, or Hollywood’s latest immoral offering. Personally I believe that this has been an easy escape from our real responsibility of being ambassadors for Christ; of taking the Gospel to people just like the ones playing music in that pub down the street. Our attention, and our focus has shifted directly on to the problems, and we have forgotten that the answer is in our hands.
It’s a lot easier to preach against the evils of Rock music, than it is to really do something useful to alleviate the sufferings of sinful man isn’t it? Just as it’s easier for disgruntled Christians to hurl criticism at the Church, and leave the fellowship of God’s people, rather than to participate in a lifetime of service; patiently working at restoring compassion and love as the things Christians are known for.
Popular culture has been an easy target; a sure-fire scapegoat for the Church’s misguided anger. We are called to "freely give" the same love, the same healing, and the same forgiveness and mercy we have received from the Father. Tell me something brothers and sisters, since when have we called to throw stones at the world around us? Where in the great commission is it written that we must hurl criticisms at our fellow man who is lost in sin? Let me say that as for the non-Christian musicians, well at least they take their music seriously, and strive for the utmost in their craft! They don’t ignore their talents, let them waste away, or settle for mediocrity!
You may reply that the apostles and prophets of old were mightily outspoken against the world around them. Indeed they were. So was our Lord Jesus Himself very critical of many people during His earthly ministry. All of this though, was directed AT GOD’S PEOPLE; those who were supposed to know Him. Jesus never once rebuked a sinner in anger, or belittled the sinner and his lot in life; nor did He mock the irreligious or the stranger among God’s people. (The Syrophoenecian, the Roman, the Samaritan, the Leper, etc.) His wrath was reserved for the "hypocrites", who prided themselves on their religious identities, but neglected or ignored the more important, and "weightier matters of the Law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness". – Matthew 23 v 23.
Brethren, are we not guilty of double-standards when we espouse our position of extreme opposition to the music of our non-Christian neighbours? I have heard some ‘Christian’ albums that have been blatant exercises in commercial manipulation. Tell me this – in what respect is that music in any way ‘Christian’? Is it because it mentions Jesus, or may use familiar tunes, or scripture verses? On the contrary, it amounts to no more than a commercial product; which in my view is the very reason it is a lie, and not true music at all. If we put a little dove on the packaging, do we get ‘Christian’ soap as a result?
Let’s be clear about this; we are called to "hold forth the Word of life", and to have our "feet shod with the gospel of PEACE". (Capitals mine.) I believe criticism should have no place in the ministry, and ours ought not to be a ‘ministry’ of rock-throwing.
Now for some necessary balance to this opinion. There is a place in the servant of God’s responsibilities (as recorded so clearly in the ‘pastoral epistles’ of 1st & 2nd Timothy, and Titus), for rebuke and correction of the saints; this is abundantly clear. His responsibility is to see that we are admonished to live a godly life. This must surely include warning against the indulgences of the flesh, and knowing how not to participate in the spirit of this world, etc. But is it written somewhere that Christians need to condemn the world around them with every other breath?
Tell the self-sufficient man his storehouse is empty. Tell the educated man his values are insufficient. Preach from the pulpit and on the streets the good news of salvation. But let’s not be so ever-ready and willing to throw stones at the "woman caught in adultery", or the ones "born blind" – the "offspring of sinners". We do need to teach right from wrong according to the Word of God, but let’s not be lost in a frenzy of stone-throwing; showing forth nothing but our self-righteousness and lack of compassion.
I’ve listened to many sermons about music, yet many who have spoken know very little about it. I feel it’s appropriate for me to say the above words. Please accept what may be of value. This is not the whole picture; it’s only one view.
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"But go and learn what this means,
‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’
for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Jesus – Matt. 9 v 13
"...He who is without sin among you,
let him be the first to throw a stone..."
Jesus – John 8 v 7