For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vague & Artsy: Fine for Music, Not for the Gospel

I've been a fan of Steve Taylor since the 80s when I first heard "I Want to Be a Clone."  A little quirky, both in music and lyrics, and yet when I dug down deep and figured out the meaning behind the satire and quirkiness, Mr. Taylor was always profound. 

I worked in Christian radio in those days, starting with our college station, and had the opportunity to meet and interview several of my favorite artists, including Steve Taylor.  He was very polite to a couple of college radio kids, took the whole thing very seriously, and gave some very insightful answers to our questions.  As silly as he may seem from the outside sometimes, inside this is a guy who loves the Lord.  

So even as his music and lyrics often became even quirkier, I still loved it.  I can honestly say I'm a fan.  And when, after decades, he comes back with an all-star band called The Perfect Foil (featuring Peter Furler, Jimmy Abegg and John Mark Painter), you could guarantee I'd be eagerly in line to get a copy of the new music.  And here was my response. 
That's right, I still don't "get" a lot of the lyrics.  They are "poetic" and "artsy" and, yes, quirky.  I mean: 
Happy go lazy
That's the way I am
You'll go crazy
If you think you can
Change a man
Happy go lazy
You're cute when you pout
I'm so lazy
Can't finish this song without...

??? But it's ok.  It's art.  It's music.  It's just for fun and entertainment.  And that's fine for music.  Sadly, there are too many in the church today who try to be fun and quirky and artsy with the Gospel.  We want to be popular and relevant and whatever.  And we often present a Gospel message that leaves people with nearly the same reaction I have to some music:  Well, I don't get it, but it was fun. 

That might be fine for earthly entertainments.  But it's certainly not fine for an eternal Gospel message.  Jesus never preached to be "cute" or "entertaining" or even what people around Him would consider "relevant."  He preached the truth, plain and simple.

But what about those parables? Those were quirky and confusing, right?  Yes, and they were given that way as a judgment on the world, not to be cute.  Folks need to hear the Gospel.  Pastor Charles Spurgeon, in teaching young preachers about preaching, reminds us that our primary goal is the conversion of sinners.  How can that happen if we're busy entertaining and being cute and being vague and hoping people get the point.   

Paul told Timothy to "preach the word" in season and out.  Proclaim the Word of God.  Do it to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort" not to entertain. (2 Timothy 4:2) People are lost and dying without Christ.  Vague and artsy messages, cute and "relevant" performances won't cut it.  Preach the Word.  Preach it clearly.  We are at war, and the message of the Gospel needs to be presented loudly and clearly in the face of the enemy to see lost souls ransomed.  

Now, then, purely for your entertainment, here's a song that I think has something to do with that war, and an encouragement to face the enemy down because "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."  Enjoy.  

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