Friday, April 22, 2016

It Is All In The Message… Or InThis Case, The Lyrics..Or Is It?

I have been struggling over the past hour or so about whether to write today or not. I have put together my thoughts about the post of a very interesting song, performed by a group known as Boyzone.  I am posting some of my thoughts only as a basic statement of reasoning, as to how I see the folly in our first glance acceptance of some media, especially if it sounds catchy or upbeat, while having a pseudo-Christian flavor.
If you are familiar with my writing at all, you will know that I am wordy.  I try to think through things systematically, because I too have been found wanting and unworthy myself many times.  My only intention is to try to help others to avoid the traps that life can bring. If I can help one person evaluate life, reflect on their purpose, and find God’s true meaning in giving us life, I try to do so.

I have no right to judge, other than from the perspective of what Scripture directs about our duty in love, to question the validity of things sometimes. I guess we are to judge what is right or correct, in clearer terms, as a gauge for living, that we might reflect both God’s love and His desire for our purpose in Him. We are taught to love everyone, but also in doing so to follow the lines of delineation that separate us from the sin that might mask itself behind twisted truths. This means to protect our hearts and minds form Satan’s ploys, while serving those who are the downtrodden and lost, or in the activity of ministry through testimony and teaching. Losing one’s self in the work can be a dangerous folly with tragic results. The story of the betrayal by Judas begs the great example, while the folly of Peter’s denial of Christ shows how easy it is to be drawn away by circumstance. These men are two examples of the frailty of the human spirit. While one was used of Satan for God’s purpose in what is judged as a truly distasteful event, (I know beyond our human understanding!), the other tripped on his own fear and confusion (we somehow judge as a more accepted recklessness) and was used in a totally different manner for God.

So, I have been stewing on the song that was posted and many others like it. “Boyzone”, has a magical influence on their listeners. But is magical enough, or does it turn our heart away from where God wants us to be? The message of the song they sang in the post has a very deliberate duality in its presentation. The use of language and its influence in all audiences can be very leading to say the least. From the perspective of the novice, (Careful here for sure…. As I don’t want to be misunderstood) when their listening ear hears words like God, faith, belief and the particular phrase they used, “If only prayers were answer…”, it would be easy to equate this to be a song with a Spiritual base in God’s grace, but it is nevertheless, as you listen and read the lyrics, only of small “s” spiritual… based not in God’s mercy and grace, but that of self reliance and one’s own tenacity and ability.

The world today is filled with pitfalls, and it seems that even Boyzone had its own tragedy when one of its members, Stephen Gately, was found dead while he and his husband Andrew Cowles were on vacation. We live in such a mishmash of influences and it is always hard to know how lenient we are to be with our belief, knowing that we are bashed from every side with lobbyists who while heralding the anti-Christian flags, lift high the idea and importance of being “politically” correct, over being “Spiritually” correct. It is hard for most young people to find a track that meets both God and man’s acceptable standards. Today we tread a similar path that the Israelites trod, as they moved slowly toward their freedom from slavery, and finally the Promised Land. They wanted God, but had an idol of “human” need fashioned, rather than wait for both God’s directives, and direction, for their future.

I wonder sometimes about how far we can stretch Christ’s directive to His disciples, found in Luke 9:48-50. This portion of scriptures is often used far out of context, beyond its intended purpose. Here Jesus is telling his disciples to not stop those outside of their own group, stating, “For anyone who is not against you is for you.” It is nearly impossible for us today to get to the root of the full understanding of Christ, of things around him, other than His being both God and man, dwelling among us. For the disciples, the stress caused by watching someone else using Christ’s power in miraculous ways, was disconcerting to say the least. What is important here, is not the disciples understanding of what was taking place, but Christ’s ability to acknowledge what the circumstances of the event, that the disciples were then judging, really was.

In today’s social upheaval, with Satan's struggles to keep humanity in his preferred alignment, away from faith and toward destruction, we as Christians need to be vigilant in our survey of what is both meaningful and healthy in our ingestion of many hidden messages in sheep’s clothing. In a study back in the 1960’s (I covered it in a course I took in my post-graduate work) it was found that subliminal messages could be sent via mass-media, which would affect the watchers/listeners toward almost any action or reaction. (No!!!… This is not a conspiracy theory about governmental control… not as most would see it! This government control is of a spiritual nature.) In the study, which tested people’s reaction to subliminal content, there were commercial messages for certain food and drinks, placed in between numbered frames of movies in drive-in theatres. The reaction was found to be phenomenal. People rushed to the food kiosks at an amazing rate during intermission. What they found, caused the limitation of advertising to that being only non-subliminal, but did little to stop the flow of its use in how the presentation of subliminal messaging could be used, both covertly and overtly, in all forms of media, including advertising itself, following the governmental regulations that ensued.

One must be cautious not to overstate the obvious. Any overstatement can create an avalanche of recrimination against any facet of social media, including Christian music itself. It is said that the foundation of many of our “Old Faithfulls” of the past, are known to be found with non-Christian origins, having their melodies taken from the popular ancient tunes from the pubs of European society. Many the old hymn has brought men, women and children to their knees in repentance before Christ, so it is folly to throw stones at too many glass houses, I realize. The message of music is not only stimulating; when used overtly, but as stated can be a powerful motivator towards repentance and salvation.

An ol’ time preacher once stated that it was easy to bring a soul to repentance… it is far more difficult to keep them safe and secured in Christ. We hear the heralding of the benefits of more music and less sharing of the “word” in Churches today. People through the ages have always preferred music over preaching and so the seats of the church sanctuaries are oft filled with the “core groups”, those who are the mainstay of the church, and our deliberation of who they are and why they attend are left to God’s judgment, and not man’s; though those outside are oft too quick to judge that group for themselves.

“The CONTEXT, the CONTEXT”, comes the cry from the heralds of academia. When the music of faith is sung in glory to God, and not “man”, as it seems was the case for the driving out of demons, as Jesus saw it; and in the context of satisfying God’s directive to teach, preach and testify to the new creation in Christ, and what He accomplished on the cross for mankind; it makes all the difference. So, I worry about what is being presented and accepted by even true believers by times. We are all so easily both influenced and affected by what can still be a subliminal means of misleading and misdirecting us away from the true message of God’s Word.  What is most important I think, should be what He has, and is accomplishing, even today for His glory and here we must take caution in our evaluation of praiseworthiness. So our eagerness to subject most things to scrutiny before God should become not just important but an everyday exercise, for our good and the good of others.

I am, as I stated, not the best judge, as I myself am judged daily by God, but I try to consider the end results of all that is happening; as I view even more closely the end, and what that holds for all of us. I pray that as we listen, watch and absorb information of all types, even from the pews/seats of our churches, we might check the foundations of its content and meaning in accordance with God’s Word, and for our lives.
Sometimes the walk to the edge is not what or where we expect it to be. Today I am reminded that I am near the edge now; how close only heaven knows, but I am nevertheless getting closer each day. My perspective is just that, mine. But, if you go there with God, in Christ Jesus, you often find things that you are not expecting. The key is not letting go of God’s hand. Let His Spirit guide you, and the view from there can be uplifting, while also un-nerving by times… But God is there with you. Why not go there and see for yourself, if you are not there already! I am praying for you!

I leave you with this message that St. Peter wrote: 2 Peter 3:14-16 Living Bible (TLB)

14 Dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen and for him to come, try hard to live without sinning; and be at peace with everyone so that he will be pleased with you when he returns.
15-16 And remember why he is waiting. He is giving us time to get his message of salvation out to others. Our wise and beloved brother Paul has talked about these same things in many of his letters. Some of his comments are not easy to understand, and there are people who are deliberately stupid, and always demand some unusual interpretation—they have twisted his letters around to mean something quite different from what he meant, just as they do the other parts of the Scripture—and the result is disaster for them.