Christian Rock

imagesThis week I’m going to come clean about something; I like Christian rock.  I get my courage from a family friend back in Massachusetts who I have recently learned likes country music and boldly listens to it when in the company of a very tough classic rock crowd.  She is my hero.  Having been a teenager in the seventies, the playlist of my life is awesome.  Amazingly, I have now made room for Christian rock somewhere beside Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

In my youth, I had no awareness that rock music had a Christian subset; I guess that’s because there wasn’t one. I recall singing showtunes from Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar with my friends, some Jewish, while listening to the radio.  They were mainstream and quite popular.  Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready is one of the greatest songs of all time and who can forget The Doobie Brothers’ version of Jesus is Just Alright? Take Me to the River by Talking Heads was among my favorites in college and I would blast it through the open windows of my dorm room once the weather turned warm. Spirituality has been a major theme in music throughout history, my history anyway.

Fifteen years later, Home for Christmas by Amy Grant became a treasured holiday album for my family.  The fact that Amy Grant was considered a Christian music singer wasn’t even on my radar.

When my children were small, my husband and I would quiz them on song and artist while listening to classic rock on long car rides to secure their proficiency in the genre.  After moving to North Carolina, we would often ride in silence because the music selection on the car radio was limited to country and Christian rock stations.   At the time, we thought it was torture and I’m still finding the CD’s we burned to get us through those early days in the south.

I made a Pandora station for the lovely woman, a pastor’s wife, who cleaned my house and noticed I was singing along as the songs became more familiar.  Next, I was listening to her station when she wasn’t there.  Pandora is a wonderful service.  All I had to do was give a song the thumbs down if I didn’t like it.  Once I sifted through the Christian music industry garbage, the religious commercials and the sappy stuff, I liked what I heard, good music with lyrics meaningful to me.

These listening habits have spilled over to my workouts in the gym.  Yes, you read that right; my husband and I meet our son at five o’clock in the morning three times a week in an attempt to defy the aging process.  I tune into my headphones while they discuss manly things.  It’s very therapeutic, especially on the rowing machine where I am praying for the workout to be over.

The challenge I put forth to you this week is to listen to The River by Jordan Feliz or Brother by Need to Breathe or I’m Not Who I Was and Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath.  If you choose, click on one (or all) of these links and tell me what you think in the comments section at the end of this post. I’d love to hear your opinion on love (formerly sex) and peace (formerly drugs) and rock and roll.

Now you know that I have adopted this aspect of southern culture.  Let me make myself perfectly clear though, this does not mean I identify with the Christian right politically.  I’ve simply removed my resistance to their music. For the record, my transition started before attending Bible class.  I’m sure the women who are praying for my saving will think otherwise; people are entitled to their opinion.

You’ve probably figured out that I’ve had music on my mind, more so than usual.  Maybe it was all the talk about trumpets in the lesson last week.  Remember that trumpet player in Earth Wind and Fire?

This week, similar to the way chapter seven (144,000) is an interruption between the sixth and seventh seal judgments, Revelation 10-11 is a hiatus between the sixth and seventh trumpet judgments (read Choose Joy, Not Anxiety if you need a refresher on the twenty-one cascading judgments in Revelation).  During both of these breaks, John shares visions of God’s people.

In Revelation 10, John sees a huge angel with his right foot on sea, his left foot on land, and a little scroll in his hand.  There are differences of opinion about the identity of this angel so let’s say the angel is an angle of light, a messenger.  With right hand raised to heaven, the angel takes an oath.

There will be no more delay!  But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. Revelation 7:6-7

John then eats the scroll; it tasted sweet but turned his stomach sour.  Interpretations vary here as well but since God’s word is meant to nourish the soul, I’m going with: this all sounds good, but it’s tough to swallow.  The angel tells John you must prophesy again (Revelation 10:11) knowing that John’s sweet words will be rejected by many.  Rejection can be depressing.

The vision then transitions to the chapter in Revelation where scholars are most greatly divided.  Revelation 11 begins with John being told to measure the temple of God with its worshipers but not the outer courtyard given to the Gentiles.  What does measure mean? Where is the temple?  Where is the courtyard?  Who are the worshipers and Gentiles, what are they doing, and how long will they be doing it?  As you can imagine, interpretations are abundant.

John then says that two witnesses will be appointed to humbly prophesize for a specific time period before the beast kills them.  Whenever I see the word beast I think of the dark side of humanity: fear, jealousy, arrogance, greed, etc.  Who is the beast? Who are the witnesses: individuals, groups, ideologies?

After another predetermined period of time, the witnesses are resurrected, lots of people die, and the survivors become reverent. The beast is overcome.  Again, there is so much going on in Revelation 11 that it is beyond the scope of this blog.  What I will say is that this chapter confirms humanity is a work in progress.

People need a platform to humbly proclaim their personal truth.  Christian rock artists use their music and I use my writing.  This week I learned that witnessing is not about winning a theological argument or convincing others that your belief system is infallible.  It’s about sharing what’s in your heart.

Do you fear embarrassment, criticism, or rejection?  Let it go.  Let your heart sing.

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