By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD
In a recent post, I told about the time when I was a teenager in Minneapolis, MN and my dad found my marijuana. That was in the late 1960’s. This post is about another day, the day when Dad made me mad. It took place in the same time period, and in the same location on Lyndale Ave. South.
To understand what happened, you have to keep in mind that at that time I was a frequent drug user, and I lived the lifestyle that went with it. This means I loved rock music. Some of my favorite rock musicians and groups were Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Cream.
So how did Dad make me mad? Well, one day I went home from somewhere, maybe from hanging out with friends, and was not expecting Dad to be home. I went in the front door, and there he was in the living room listening to music. He was hard of hearing, so the record player was turned up LOUD. But Dad was not listening to my favorite rock music. He was listening to a woman sing the hymn called “How Great Thou Art.” It was so contrary to the music I liked, and to the way I was living that it immediately made me mad. So mad, in fact, that I quickly walked to another room, slammed the door shut and yelled out, “Can’t you listen to some happy music?!”
Here’s a point I want to make from this event: Christian music has the power to confront a sinful lifestyle. It has the power to shine the light of Biblical truth into hearts and minds darkened by sin. It has the power to help people see their need of God’s forgiveness, which he gives to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. The Bible is God’s Word, and it says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) The Bible says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) The Bible says, “In him (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Ephesians 1:7) The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” (Acts 16:31) All of these Biblical truths, and many others, can be, and have been, expressed through Christian music.
But what if the musical style that is used to accompany the Bible’s truths is the same as the style used by rock musicians? The result is the joining together of music and words that contradict one another. Do rock musicians use sacred music to express their words? Of course not! The fact is, Christian words and rock music do not belong together. And when they are joined together, the message in the words gets diluted by the music. We cannot join words about sacred subjects to music that is secular and anti-sacred by its very nature. But, unfortunately, that is exactly what has happened in recent decades. Well-meaning Christians musicians have been the driving force behind this blending of the sacred and the secular and anti-sacred. Their goal has been to reach more people with the Gospel. But the results have not justified this blending of opposites, for by it Christians have become more like the world than different from it. Therefore, we need a reminder that this is not how it should be. Such a reminder is found in the Bible, in the first two verses of the twelfth chapter of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians. The whole chapter is given below, and is taken from the Modern English Version (MEV). The Modern English Version was published in 2014, and is a new translation of the same Old Testament text and the same New Testament text from which the King James Version was translated. The MEV of Romans 12 was taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com. This website has important information about the Modern English Version.
Romans 12 Modern English Version (MEV)
The New Life in Christ
12 I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sound judgment, according to the measure of faith God has distributed to every man. 4 For just as we have many parts in one body, and not all parts have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and all are parts of one another. 6 We have diverse gifts according to the grace that is given to us: if prophecy, according to the proportion of faith; 7 if service, in serving; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with generosity; he who rules, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Rules of the Christian Life
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Hate what is evil. Cleave to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another with brotherly love; prefer one another in honor, 11 do not be lazy in diligence, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, 12 rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer, 13 contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Do not pretend to be wiser than you are.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Commend what is honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to God’s wrath, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him a drink;
for in doing so you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.