In his book Art and the Bible, Francis Schaeffer (I found it in our office library today) describes four categories of art: bad art with a true message, good art with a true message, bad art with a bad message, and good art with a good message. These four categories of arts reminds me of the modern rock music which I hear almost every day of my life. I love rock music!
Rock music is very exciting and yet very dangerous at the same time. Upbeat rock can increase our mood, make our mind alert and give the sense of freedom to our souls (especially when we sing along). Rock also has the invincible power to unite rock lovers from very part of the world. Just come to the live concerts and you will see how easily strangers can become friends.
The dangerous part is when good music combined with a false message, we can get confused. I don’t believe that Satan creates music. He has no power to create. God is the One who create music for His own glory and for us to enjoy. But Satan (as he always does) can misuse and manipulate music as an instrument of sins. Catchy music and clever lyrics give false messages a credibility they would not ordinarily have (This reminds me of how our generations today draw their many foreign ideas about God and world views from their favourite artists instead of the Scripture). By naturally responding to the song’s quality, we may suspend judgment and accept its false message, too. More over rock music primarily fall short in the areas of materialism, sex (‘love’ usually mean sex) and hedonism (pursuing pleasure and the ‘good life’). This is dangerous!
But why I still listen to rock music? Because the problem is not the music, it is our ability to discern good and acceptable songs from bad and manipulative songs. In reality we can’t get away from listening to rock music and the likes. Television, internet, radio and technology gadgets are full of many kind of music – good and bad and somewhere in between – that bombarded our ears with many confusing messages. To try to get away from this is not just unrealistic but also unchristian. The Scriptures says we are not “of the world” but (yet) “in the world.” Therefore, I still listen to rock but with cautious and discernment. This applies to any songs I hear every day. Just because there are words like “Jesus” and “God” in the lyrics, it doesn’t mean that the message is biblical. Thus, be careful!
But a word of warning: if we want the freedom to listen (or not to listen) to certain songs, then we must reserve judgment and allow others to make their own choices, too. We shouldn’t impose on others to “listen to this” and “don’t listen to that.” Let others have the freedom to choose. I think, rather than condemning rock, God’s people should be in the position of encouraging whatever is good, worthy and true to popular music. And rather than blacklisting, condemning or otherwise writing off rock bands and even Christian rock bands that don’t fit our stereotypes of what Christian musicians should be (unless it is obviously contain false messages), we must encourage them to higher achievement. The Christian community and the world at large desperately need the creativity, enthusiasm, courage and vision Christian artists can bring. Peace!
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.