Luke Harris, pastor, Crossroads Community Church
I was listening to some classic songs the other day and I was reminded of a quirky characteristic that seems to always rear its head in popular music. Let me explain. Sometimes an artist comes along and writes lyrics that change the way people think or act. They in essence change an entire culture. They wake us up to some social wrong and set us thinking on loftier ideals. Bob Dylan is one of those artists. Lyrics like “come gather round people wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown and accept it that soon you will be drenched to the bone...” really got the young people thinking of how they had better start making a difference, that they better learn to swim or end up sinking like a stone. These are lyrics that speak an important message. However, not all songs fit that role. Sometimes people do nothing but try to simply find words that rhyme. Today’s music is littered with words that rhyme but that don’t do a thing to change our hearts or change the way we think or act for the better. They do seem to change a culture but in a negative way. But this phenomenon also applies to those who have the ability to change things but simply choose to rhyme, like Dylan. In fact, Dylan himself wrote the lyrics, “man in the coonskin cap by the pig-pen wants eleven dollar bill - you only got ten.” Now I know there are probably PhDs out there who wrote their dissertation and have made it their life’s work to negotiate the social implications of Dylan’s political rubric in the song Subterranean Homesick Blues, but come on let’s face it - it just rhymes, nothing more. Here’s my point: Bob Dylan had the ability to write songs that changed the way people thought and acted, he helped repaint the cultural landscape and broke the status quo with the power of his lyrics, but other times he just tried to find words that rhymed. And this certainly reminds me of the state of Christendom today; and it reminds me of Scripture.
Sometimes I feel like we in the church are just trying to find words that rhyme. Words that don’t really add beauty or depth to the song or change a culture or break a status quo. I feel that we have missed what we are expected to do. Do you realize the role that the church has been given by God? Let me share with you something amazing from Ephesians 3:10. For the first two verses of the letter to Ephesus Paul is talking to the church about the necessity of unity. He is talking to this Gentile audience and explaining that Jew and Gentile alike are able to come near to the throne of God, to be partakers of the blessings. Now stop and think for a moment how radical an idea this was. Jews and Gentiles never felt they were meant to live in the same community much less worship the same God. But Paul is saying they all have the same access and the same opportunity. Those are lyrics that can set a heart in motion! So in chapter 3 Paul starts what seems to be a summation of what he just explained, “For this reason” he writes. But then mid-stride in verse 2 he begins to chase a rabbit trail. But in doing so he writes what can only be seen as lyrics that can change the world. He writes about the “mystery of the gospel” that is once again that we are joint heirs, that no matter what the background is you come from you and the other guy who is different from you have the same access to God. Amazing stuff, but here is what blows my mind. In verse 10 Paul states that “through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” Don’t let that lyric go in one ear and out the other. Don’t just try to find a word that rhymes here. If you are a child of God and I hope that you are. If you have accepted that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins and you have confessed Him as your Savior then you belong to the collective body called the “church”. When you realize that you don’t belong to a “church building” and when you stop answering spiritual questions with “oh yeah, I attend such-and-such church” then you will realize that as a member of this collective body called the church you have the ability to be a part of the song that changes things, not just clamoring for words that rhyme. According to Paul, we are responsible to show “heavenly rulers and authorities”, that is angels both good and bad in heavenly realms, what the manifold or “many-faced” wisdom of God is! Why didn’t God just turn around and tell them? Because He wanted to entrust us with this task. If you have been half-hearted about your relationship with God or if you have been trusting in a spiritual identity that attaches to a specific group of church-goers rather than the entire body of believers then you have been simply singing lyrics that rhyme. Entertaining perhaps but you aren’t going to change the world. And from what I read, we have a task and a message that not only changes the world, but changes the very heavens themselves. What was it Dylan also wrote? Oh yeah, “knockin’ on heaven’s door” - sounds like that’s what God expects of His church. So let’s get to work
Luke Harris is the pastor of Crossroads Community Church currently meeting at Grand Avenue Elementary. If you currently do not have a church home then you are invited to join us for worship this Sunday morning at 10:45 AM. You can also check us out on the web at www.chickashacrossroads.com or on Facebook under Chickasha Crossroads.