I’ve been considering being a Christian artist for awhile now. We, as charismatic, Bible-believing, full Gospel types don’t allow much leeway. You either sing about Jesus or you don’t. You laud the sacrifice of Jesus or you sing “Baby, Baby” like Amy Grant. At least, that’s what I absorbed.
This post is me repenting of the error of my ways.
I must admit I read it with two minds. I remember when Amy Grant came out with her “Lead Me On” album. I loved the songs, but had to get rid of it. It didn’t jive with what I considered to be “Christian” music. The songs were about life, and her memories. A young mother struggling in her marriage. About seeking God in a deeper way, but not naming Him. No mention of Jesus, or His blood.
I remember railing against my roommate for her unswerving loyalty to Ms. Grant. I said Amy sold out. She was crossing over to the secular market, where the money was. Using the pretext of “reaching the unsaved”, she made a contract with the devil to acquire more mammon.
I was an idiot. I apologize to my friend. She knows who she is!
Amy Grant, the darling of contemporary Christian music, had moved on. I remember branding her a traitor. Forgive me, Amy! I had no right to judge you. Maybe you found the sacred pond too small to swim in anymore. I mean, life is so much bigger than our conversion experience, right? The real struggle begins when you start to live your life with Christ in you. You stand up, and fall down. You might lie. You might stumble and fall down and hurt yourself. Guaranteed – you will struggle. You probably will hurt others, too. What then? I’m not downgrading songs about the love of Jesus, serving God with our whole hearts and the cleansing of the blood. Not at all. They are important, too.
But shouldn’t Christian artists be afforded the same freedom of regular artists? Is it fear that keeps Switchfoot, Thousand Foot Krutch, Skillet and so many others from using Jesus in every other line? Are they trying to be more popular with the mainstream? Or are they simply following their vision, a vision God gave them in the first place?
I think for too long us Christians have relied on a subset of music – which, frankly, is mostly deplorable artistically – as a safe place to run to so we don’t have to filter for ourselves. If we’re all floating in the pond with Michael W. Smith, we don’t have to wonder if he’ll be true to what we believe. We know that’s his wheelhouse. Yet in doing this, we effectively disengage our critical thinking. We don’t put our amazing powers of discernment and insight to good use. We let others do it for us. Our desire to be “in the world, but not of the world” , to remain holy, sometimes causes a bizarre duality.
I grew up on Petra, Rez Band and Second Chapter of Acts. In fact, Petra was the first concert I ever attended. I love those groups. They bring back great memories. I even like Carman. I have a pretty eclectic background in contemporary Christian music. I enjoy many genres. When groups started to blur the lines – U2 and others – it caused a rift in the body of Christ. Oh sure, we let folks like Carman be creative with his “Witch’s Invitation” storytelling. Certain folks got to push the limits. Just as certainly, not very many.
Can we allow artists to express what the Lord put within them? Will we rise up and take our place as mature believers and let people be who God made them to be and stop shoving them back into the oh-so-holy box? Will we allow our creative heroes to be the eyes, ears, feet or elbow they were meant to be? We need to be lifting Jesus up on our own, not relying on others to do it for us. Our output as Christians should come from who we are. *We* are Christians; our work simply flows from there.