person in black pants lying on brown cardboard boxes


Last night I watched the documentary, “Jesus Music.” It began with the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, from which I found my faith. So it resonated with me.

The part of the story that struck me most was that it was a history of resistance by Christians against Christians. As each genre of the music emerged, from rock to metal to gospel/rap to worship, Christians in the established church condemned it as evil. As the sins of the artists became known, they were judged and condemned as sinners not worthy and their music to go unheard.

The gospel/rap artists and their music met with the greatest resistance. I have to confess I have not followed Christian rap music, not because I regard it as evil but because I simply do not have an ear attuned to the style. So my eyes opened a little wider last night. With the improved vision that came, what I saw was…God.

Kirk Franklin’s song “Stomp” was one of the most popular Christian songs of the 1990s. If you are unfamiliar with it you can see and hear it here. I will wager that if you are unfamiliar with gospel/rap music your first reaction may be, “that’s not Christian music.” And if your ear is not attuned to the music, as mine was and still is not, you will not hear the lyrics. You can read them here. The song did not just make it in Christian circles. It crossed over into popular music and even became big in dance clubs, which of course brought even greater condemnation.

After I watched the video and read the lyrics, what struck me about the song was what an amazing thing God had done. He took a song that is unabashedly Christian and took it out into a world of dance clubs where Christ probably was not on the mind of the dancers. But someone, or more than one, probably listened to the lyrics. Somewhere, there was a lost sheep to whom Christ was calling through the music. Perhaps there was only one, but I am confident God was in the music for that sheep.

My conclusion from my experience of last night was that I, and we, all too easily try to contain God in a box of our making. We all too easily think others must think as we expect, behave as we expect, worship as we expect, and live as we expect. When they sin, they must be condemned and rejected. We build a box for ourselves and others and define that as the space where God dwells. As “Jesus Music” illustrates, however, God simply will not be contained by our boxes.

I think the question to ask when we encounter the unfamiliar is not “What is wrong with this?” but rather “Where is God in this?” Christ walks among the sinners as well as the redeemed. If we do not see him, it may be because our vision stops at the walls of the box we have built around us and he is outside.

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Welcome, I'm Tom

I'm Tom Trezise a retired lawyer and corporate executive with over twenty years of experience as a Methodist lay preacher. Raised in Appalachia, I proudly call myself a hillbilly at heart. I'm the executive director of The Everyday Kingdom, a non-profit devoted to fostering a community that helps people find and experience the peace, purpose, and joy available from living every day in Christ’s kingdom.

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