All it takes is two distinct chords rhythmically strummed as four staccato notes in a span of less than two seconds for any child of the 90’s to recognize one of the greatest rock and roll hits of all time as Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. In that same amount of time, any churchboy of the 90’s can instantly recognize what could be argued the greatest Christian rock song of all time by the muted guitar count-off as DC Talk’s Jesus Freak. Released in 1995, Jesus Freak not only served as the anthem for a generation of young people unashamed to let people know of their devotion to Christ, but it also served as the anchor and title track of DC Talk’s fourth album. The album itself was as groundbreaking and revolutionary in the world of Christian music as the aforementioned Nirvana’s Nevermind, which contained Smells Like Teen Spirit, was to the world of grunge rock and rock music as a whole. It is on this album that the trio of Toby McKeehan, Michael Tait, and Kevin Max Smith tackled subjects considered taboo by many in the Christian music industry such as racism, atheism, hypocrisy, selfishness, intolerance, and suicide. One song in particular took on nearly all of these issues but to find it one would have to flip the cassette and wait for the third track on the second side or skip to track #11 if you had embraced compact disc technology at that time. What Have We Become not only serves as the title of this blog, it asked a question twenty-three years ago that seems to have only gotten worse in the time since. Recently, thanks to Pandora radio’s music-selecting algorithms, I reheard What Have We Become for the first time in possibly the last five years or so. Although I could immediately sing along with every lyric as if it had been on a nonstop loop since its release 23 years ago, I found myself choked up as the words were not simply just rolling off my tongue but speaking to my heart in a way they never had before.
Since the presidential election of 2016, the divide within our country between political parties has become more obvious and public than possibly any other time in our country’s history. With the prevalence of social media, issues are discussed, debated, argued, and fought over on a round the clock basis. At any second, a firestorm of controversy is simply a few keystrokes or a viral photo away from erupting into a potential life altering scenario which wreaks havoc on all parties involved, the innocent and guilty alike. Unfortunately, those who claim to be Christian aren’t exempt from both being victimized or victimizing others by such behavior. The desire to not only be right, but to prove you are right can prove to be a driving passion that blinds the eyes of love with which we should strive to view others. As Toby, Michael, and Kevin sang in the last line of the bridge, “What about mercy, compassion, and selflessness?” Although it’s difficult to remember, love coupled with humility must always be prevalent when dealing with others. Although on official hiatus since 2001, on occasion the trio reunite to collaborate. In 2015, fans were treated with such an occurrence on Toby’s album This Is Not A Test as the track Love Feels Like featured all three members of the band. The lyrics of the track provide what is likely one of the most accurate descriptions of love found in song, “Poured out, used up, still givin’, Stretching me out to the end of my limits . . . It’s worth everything you put in.”
The longer I live and continue on this journey of recovery the more I find value in the words of Jesus from John 13:35:
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Love isn’t always easy, love sometimes hurts, love stretches us and pushes us, but love never fails. That doesn’t mean love always gets its desired result. In fact, the selfless nature of love has no desired result. Love means acceptance, not conformity. Love is without condition. Love means I can be me and you can be you. In the words of the aforementioned trio, it’s worth everything you put in.
Let’s remember just three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
This post is part of the Sychroblog – a group of bloggers who write on spiritual topics, often from different perspectives – which is published once a month. This month we were challenged to write on “How the Church can work toward Unity in Our Culture and Country.”
Here is the list of other writers and authors who contributed to this month’s Synchroblog. Go read them all to see what others think about church unity.