“…That we may be like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:20)
Nobody likes to not fit in. Billions of dollars are spent on advertising each year, in fact, to tell us how to fit in. You need these clothes, that video game, this music CD, these shoes, that car. Culture does not create the marketplace. The market creates the culture. We are told on a continual basis what we need to be cool, the “it” thing, successful, healthy. And the more we do things to be “different”, the more we look just like the rest of the herd.
One thing I love about God is that He doesn’t want us to be anything but what we are – who we are – in our hearts. I wish we knew this.
Christian music is getting weaker and weaker because we “want to be like all the nations.” Unless a miracle happens, I may have bought my last Christian CD. I can’t stand the shallowness of it anymore. It all sounds just like the world’s music, only with insipid, shallow Christian feel-good lyrics. In our desire to create music the world can “relate” to, we’ve left out the Creator who can make music the world is ASTOUNDED by.
When is the last time you played a Christian CD for an unbeliever and they were astounded, or said, “Wow! That got my HEART!”
There was a time, you know. There was a man named Keith Green, who was about to become a music superstar. He found Jesus and poured his life into writing and singing about Him. He sounded and wrote like NO ONE ELSE, not in the world, not in the church. His songs burned with the convicting power of GOD. People left his concerts angry or changed forever.
There was a band called “The 2nd Chapter of Acts.” It was three skinny kids, who, when they sang, leveled audiences. Everyone knew their lyrics and harmonies were not human. They were angelic. From the moment they sang, the power of God descended and crowds were caught up in devastating worship. They weren’t slick, they didn’t dress cool. They were just VESSELS OF THE HOLY.
I weep when I listen to what is produced today. It is STERILE. It is lifeless. Well-intentioned, but lifeless. In striving to sound like the world, we have succeeded fabulously. But there is no power to redeem.
Music and worship are so important to God that He sent the worshipers first onto the battlefield. How can we expect to see lives changed if we don’t create music with that kind of gravity? How can a Christian musician hope to be anything but a passing fad, unless they come close enough to the Holy of Holies to at least be brushed with the wings and winds of the Holy Angels?
No, we can only have it two ways; either to “be like other nations” or cry out for His anointing on our music, career or not.
You won’t make many friends that way. One of the other “prophets of music” was Steve Camp, whose first albums were wildly successful, fun things. Then he got serious. He wrote songs about commitment, sacrifice, suffering, and the cross. I went to a concert here, watched the 500 or so people party while he sang his fun stuff – then watched ¾ of them get up and walk out when he sang and challenged them to surrender everything. By not “being like the other nations”, he lost his shallow audience – but gained a Friend.
There’s no space to write extensively about Christian books, but it’s the same concept. Shallow, fun, sensational and romantic sell. Books with depth tank or never see the light of day. Secular trends become our own, and our best sellers are “just like the other nations”, but nicer, with a nice “Jesus touch.”
The church has grown trendy, hip, multimedia, seeker friendly, more comfortable. It’s hard to tell many church services from an Amway convention these days. We wanted to reach (impress) the world using their methods and their tools, but there is little conviction, there is no challenge, there is no sacrifice. Just a nice place to go once or twice a week, a place we leave unchanged.
We recently had a youth Bible study where God walked in totally unexpectedly and began to put His finger on things we were holding on to from the world. It wasn’t fun, it hurt, it was scary. But it was real. I left thinking, “This is what’s missing.” Most youth ministries are bent on attracting the world through fun, excitement, and a cool trendy youth pastor, so we can “relate” to the world and they to us. “Just like the other nations.” But what is needed is the power of God present and working in youth groups through real worship and the pure Word. If we do not set a higher standard, it’s just fun and games, youth babysitting. Lives will not be changed. Just modified. Nicer kids, but not transformed kids.
God has called us to be a “peculiar people.” Not weird. Although, if we take Him seriously, we’ll be unlike anyone or anything the world has seen. We cannot become life-changing people until we LET GO of the longing for success, popularity, likeability, numbers or acceptance. We must give up all the desire to be “like the other nations.”
God is calling a generation who want to be NOTHING like the other nations, who despise their trinkets, deny their lures, and have no desire to imitate their trends. He’s calling those who will enter the Holy Place to receive eternal music and worship, write with the words of the prophets, preach like Paul and walk in supernatural miracles like it was a common walk. Come up higher, saints. Let go of the world and all its loves. Give Him all, and expect His all – and watch God change the world!