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Blog #13

A Foot in each world

I am a lover of music. Being a 90's baby, I believe I was brought up in one of the greatest eras of music that will never be repeated. There's a reason why kids today are still jamming bangers from when I was growing up - because our music is timeless and today's music, for the most part, by comparison is made for quick, attention grabbing short-term relevance and listening. I'm not hating on it, just pointing out a reality that yesterdays music still holds up in 2021. I believe my children will more likely listen to songs from the 90's-early 2000's than music of 2021 as their 'throwbacks' when they get older!  

Some of the music I love reflects my upbringing. My grandfather is a massive fan of Dr. Hook and the Eagles. My mum is a HUGE MJ fan (hence who I was named after. Seriously), and fan of the BeeGees and ABBA. My dad? Typical FOB jams, mixed with some weird ones like (Aunty) Shanaia Twain and Atomic Kitten. My older brother? A typical R'n'B head from Boyz 2 Men, Joe, Bobby Brown, Usher, and list goes on. Me? A hybrid mix of all of these things, whilst loving Sam Cooke, Reggae Roots, Gospel, Worship and some rock as well.

I recently have heard of a few examples from Christian people who weren't allowed to have 'secular music' in their household growing up. I guess the mentality is that 'worldly music' gives an opportunity for 'worldly ways' to infiltrate your 'holy life' or something to that affect. Although I don't necessarily agree, it did get me thinking about music as an example of how we as Christians have to constantly navigate what the bible describes as being 'in the world' vs. 'of the world'

Some songs today are pretty explicit when it comes to their lyricism and sexualization. I even heard a song recently where the chorus went something like
"I'll have her screaming 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus'"
This made me feel uncomfortable and uneasy. You can read between the lines as to what the lyrics are referring to.

How are we to navigate the world today, when such opposition to our faith-based values are regularly challenged with intent? Is it possible to have a club banger alongside a worship Spirit-stirrer on your playlist without much conflict? Is it OK to expose children to music about relationships and adults concepts, whilst trying to guard them from growing up too early? What about sex? Objectification of women? Violence?

I can't imagine my childhood without KC and Jojo, Backstreet Boys, Tupac, Usher and other iconic artists. These were the soundtracks to my childhood. But they didn't negatively impact my understanding of the world, self and relationship to others within it. For some though, it might and it does, and so that's something for us to seriously consider in light of what we consider acceptable today. 

Paul speaks of an interesting concept in 1 Corinthians 8.6-13


For if others see you—with your “superior knowledge”—eating in the temple of an idol, won’t they be encouraged to violate their conscience by eating food that has been offered to an idol? So because of your superior knowledge, a weak believer for whom Christ died will be destroyed. And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble.

Corinthians 8:6-13

Essentially, Paul is suggesting that our actions must be done with awareness for what other Christians may learn/unlearn from us. This does not make us more or less 'saved' but is a consequential responsibility to our salvation itself.

Full disclaimer - I don't plan on eliminating any of my 'worldly music' from my Spotify any time soon (I was listening to SWV as I wrote this very line!) However, it is worth considering how a little thing like the music we listen to might impact the faith we hold and even the faith of other, less experienced Christian journeyers than ourselves.

I have no answers to any of the questions I've posed today, but rather would encourage to think about these things. Consider the relationship every aspect of your life has with the Christian life we are called to live - not as perfect people, but imperfect people loved by a perfect God. This questioning can extend beyond music and into what we watch, who we follow online, how we interact with people and the list goes on.

​These are the kind of real and meaningful conversations we should look to be having with our youth today - in an out of the church - in an attempt to understand the role and place our faith stands in an ever increasingly world that challenges the very things we as Christian hold close to our chest. 

by Michael Lemanu, Mission Resourcing

Some Questions to Consider:

  1. How do we engage in a world that is sometimes the opposite of what we believe? Should we even in the first place?
  2. Where do you personally 'draw the line' when it comes to worldly vs. spiritual things? Does this line change over time?
  3. Who might need prayer in relation to todays Blog?

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