I’m weird. Those who know me are thinking, “Duh.” Those who don’t know me probably don’t care. But you might need to know that little fact to understand the rest of this post. I’m weird. What moves me often means nothing to others, and vice-versa.
That has a lot of implications, and applies to a lot of areas of my life, but for the moment we’re going to look at my taste in music. It’s varied to say the least. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think I’m the only pastor I know of who collects antique hymnals but enjoys loud Christians rock music, as well as a handful of “reformed” rappers. It’ that later category that I’m thinking of this morning.
I’ve been a big fan of Flame, Shai Linne and Lecrae for several years now. Five or six years ago I attended a conference in St. Louis and the host pastor introduced a young man named Marcus Gray, aka Flame, who was a member of his church at the time. I met him briefly and was intrigued enough to pick up one of his CDs. The rest is history.
Anyway, through those guys, I’ve also been introduce to a rapper who goes by This’l. I liked what I heard from him, and he’s another of my St. Louis boys, so I picked up a CD called Beautiful Monster and I’ve been enjoying it. But one song actually moved me to tears this morning. Seriously. I told you I was weird.
The song is called “I Signed Up to Die,” and it simply tells the story of several people who faced death because of their faith in Christ. When asked by their killers, “aren’t you going to beg,” or “are you going to convert,” the response was “No, I signed up to die!”
What moved me to tears was twofold. One, I know enough about church history and even what’s going on today to know that these are not just stories. People die for their faith every day. Martyrs are made every minute. It’s one reason why over the years we’ve appreciated the ministry of Voice of the Martyrs so much. The church needs to be reminded, needs to hear these stories, needs to be challenged to support our persecuted brethren around the world. Thinking of all that brings an emotional response for me.
And two, I’m suddenly confronted by my own commitment to Christ. We live in this world that, whether we realize it or not, has been heavily influenced by the whole prosperity gospel thing. We may not teach it openly, but simply by being born in America, living with the blessings we have, we are subtly lured into this whole Gospel = American Dream kind of thinking. We think we should spend our lives in this world in comfort, enjoying the earthly blessings of God, because we think we deserve it, etc.
This song reminds me that our commitment to Christ should mean that we signed up to die. Not that we have some martyr complex, that we seek out persecution, that we do foolish things to bring it on ourselves. But we should know that to live for Christ is to live at odds with this world; to live for Christ is to be an enemy of the world; and the world will not like it.
When I first heard the song, as those lyrics poured into my ears and my heart at the same time, I was suddenly reminded of another set of words. These were spoken by missionary and itinerant preacher Paul Washer as he spoke of our commitment to Christ and His demands on us. He said:
“What does he demand from us and the answer is everything…This is what it will cost you: your life; because Jesus only promised you two things: a cross to die on and eternal life. He is everything or He is nothing.”
Do we have that kind of commitment? Can we honestly say that we’ve signed up to die, even in the face of those who would bring that death to reality? These thoughts are what caused me to tear up in my truck as I drove in to town. Again, I know I’m weird, and what moves me may have no affect on you at all. But here is the song from This’l as well as a short video of Bro. Washer (this particular quote is at about 3:10). I pray that one or both will be a blessing and a challenge to you today.
(Note: I tried to find a video with lyrics, but sadly the lyrics here are harder to read than for some to hear. If you want to read the whole set of lyrics, try here).