Life among the natives

The cutest boy in youth group sidled over to the record player, set the roundtable spinning and put the needle on the LP*.

“Wait until you hear this–it’s just great,” my friend whispered, elbowing me at the same time and giggling over how cute Chuck was.

Soon a throaty, young woman’s voice grooved through the room, setting most all of us on edge and on fire for this new music. We hadn’t heard anything like it in our stiff, Presbyterian hymnals. Certainly Sunday’s music never had drums, synthesizers and lyrics we could relate to. Soon, each of us had copies of the new album on cassette. We jived to school, pumped up the volume and roamed worn-down paths at church camp, all while serenaded through foamy earphones by Amy Grant on our Walkmans.

Soon after that, Amy Grant became one of the first–if not the first–Christian recording artists to ever become a cross-over.

You know.

A cross-over.

Someone who sings about or writes about or talks about Christian stuff, but is somehow, miraculously broadcast over secular airwaves; printed via secular printing presses; discussed at secular coffee houses.

How did she do it?

Should she do it?

What had she done?

Criticism, admiration, inspiration and more circulated and percolated across secular and Christian circles alike about Amy. Some worried she tainted her Christian message by allowing it to mingle on the airwaves with the likes of Def Leppard, John Lennon, Blue Oyster Cult and more. Others praised her efforts and God’s work in breaking into the secular market. Maybe non-Christians, hearts set on their secular, rock-and-roll radio stations, would hear Amy Grant on their station, buy her album, and set their hearts on Christ.

I always felt bad for Amy Grant when I heard folks ripping her to shreds for crossing over into the mainstream. Just because Casey Kasem played her on his Top 40 show didn’t mean she wasn’t a Christian. After all, I couldn’t wait to listen to American Top 40 every week myself. And I was ecstatic when one of her songs popped up on my oh-so-secular, teenage radio station.

Times haven’t changed much. Whether we like to admit it or not, girls sit with girls and boys with boys in the lunch room. Cultures don’t mix with other cultures near as much as Martin Luther King would’ve hoped by now.

And religion still doesn’t mix well with the secular.

But we’re supposed to mix and mingle, all of us.

All colors.

All sexes.

All sizes, shapes and colors.

The difference is, as Christians, we’re to do so with the knowledge and heart stance of being examples–ambassadors, as Paul calls us–to share the good news with others. To pierce through the darkness that is life without Christ, and lead others to the light of hope, redemption and ultimate salvation.

So why do Christians–I dare say especially Christians–pick on each other so much for creating art that touches upon but is not tainted by secularism?

Why do Christian writers, artists, songwriters, pastors and lay servants criticize each other for delving into dark places with their illuminated, inspired art, when that is exactly what the dark places need? And it’s exactly the places Christ calls us to go, for Him?

Questions for you:

Where do your love for Christ and your daily life intersect with the secular world?

Do you feel uncomfortable when you reach such crossroads, or do you press on to reach those who don’t yet have the hope that is in Jesus Christ?

Did you listen to Amy Grant before she “went secular?” Do you remember what you heard or thought when she started releasing songs which crossed over into mainstream music?

“God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them.” ~2 Corinthians 5:20

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” ~I Peter 2:9-12

This post was written as part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival. This week’s word is “secular.” For more and even better posts than mine, be sure to click here to visit the site where all the posts are linked.

*If you don’t know what an LP is, Google it. And at the same time, you need to know you’re probably too young to read this blog without parental supervision.

3 thoughts on “Life among the natives

  1. Those Christian artists whether musicians, singers, sports figures, book writers, movie stars, etc, are being acknowledged by the secular world and are testimonies to the world of God’s love. The curtain lifts as others step out to reveal Jesus in a Secular world. I enjoyed your post very much!

  2. The hard part in our present day is watching for the small side-elements that can strangle us when we doing a cross-over. For instance, I’ve wanted to write a book for years that would be non-Christian in its overall story and focus, BUT being filled with hope and joy and the peace of the Lord… and salvation… by the end. The hope is that non-Christians [secular society?] would get into the book and then, by the end, would discover that a spiritual healing could occur and save life after life. Since lines are so specifically drawn, I haven’t been able to go that direction. She had guts, and, even if it wasn’t the wisest thing she could have done [not my business], she sure tried to open the hearts of people and have them question their own lives/goals. Anyhow, that’s my opinion.

  3. Amy, I live in Brazil, and Amy Grant was absolutely unknown here until she released the song “The next time I fall”, with Peter Cetera. Later on (before I converted) I bought her album Heart in Motion, and I was surprised by the obvious Christian lyrics, mainly by the song “Ask”.
    A while later, when I converted, I reach to the only singer I liked and I knew wrote amazing christian lyrics, and I bought her first Collection album. Wow! I believed that God used Heart in Motion to plant a seed in my heart.
    So say whatever they want, I stand up for her.
    By the way, have you noticed how in history, when God calls a person to make a change in society somehow, the first resistance he gets is from e church? Look at Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr., for example.
    Unfortunately, the voice of the church is not always the voice of God.

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