Monday, August 15, 2011

Rock'n'roll, Baby!

I love rock’n’roll. 

People ask me what my favorite type of music is and I always cop out by saying “a little bit of everything” – and it’s true! – but I’ve got to be honest with myself.  It’s usually some kind of rockin’, ballsy, maybe bluesy, a bit of metal and epic music that pulls me out of a funk, gets my cylinders firing and just all-around pumps me up.  You want Cliff to get excited about something?  “Just add guitar.”  Or drums.  Or bass.  I think you get the idea.

After I really met Jesus for the first time as a teenager all I would listen to was “Christian” rock.  Until about halfway through my junior year of high school, this consisted of the likes of Petra, DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, and Michael W. Smith.  Granted, all these bands rock (yes, even MWS), but little did I know I had barely even scratched the surface.

One afternoon after school, heading home, my good buddy Justin blew my mind.  A couple of us piled into his car, and now that I think about it, I seem to remember him prefacing this experience by saying, “Prepare to have your mind blown.”  He put a CD in and this is what I heard: “Perfect Night for a Hanging” by Tourniquet.  Like Train’s Soul Sister, my mind was blown. 

“This is Christian?” I asked in awe and wonder from the backseat.  Justin only smirked and nodded.  “This is amazing!  And that bit of metal, deep in my soul, was awakened.

Nowadays Christian Contemporary Music does represent a significant portion of my musical repertoire, but it by no means dominates it.  I’ve since learned there is also beauty and truth in “secular” music.  There is also truth and beauty in metal.

Now, heavy metal music is typically characterized as “angry music.”  And, well, yeah – you wouldn’t use Atreyu or Clutch as hold music for the Anger Management Hotline.  However, what I learned from that experience my junior year is that anger is okay.  The Bible doesn’t say, “Thou shalt not get angry,” but rather “Be slow to anger.”  I mean, when Jesus cleansed the temple do you think He was serenely wielding that whip with a sublime smile, saying, “Verily, verily, get thee out, pretty please”?  No!  His words are translated with exclamation points!

To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

Um, not to be crass, but it sounds like sweet, li’l, boxed-up-baby-Jesus is pissed off.  Sure, He’s the Son of God, and God is love and Jesus is all about loving His lambs, but part of love is fiercely defending those who one loves and, conversely, hating any threat to the beloved.  And we’re supposed to be like Jesus.

Anger shouldn’t arise from any sense of self-righteousness, but out of love.  Is there injustice?  Be angry about it.  Are there any who are oppressed?  Let anger burn against the oppression.  But don’t just sit there and stew – act; and that out of wisdom.

I’m not saying just go on a mad tear and burn stuff up because James, Jesus’ half-brother, tells us, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20).  And vengeance?  Forget about it – vengeance belongs to God and God alone.

However, where there is evil, injustice and oppression, let the anger of God abound in your heart and then act in compassion towards those who are victims of the darkness.  Remember, our foes aren’t the people we can see, but the forces we can’t. 

Be an advocate, a voice for the voiceless, a father to the fatherless.

Be angry.

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