Jesus Music

I love listening to Rush.  Sam Roberts.  Sloan.

I thought I’d preface this post on “Christian Music” by letting you know that I also really like “secular music.” Those are terrible terms, and I don’t want to use them at any length.  I don’t have “Christian friends” and “secular friends”; I have friends, and some of them need to know Jesus. None of Sam Roberts’ songs need to know Jesus, and none of dc Talk’s songs do know Jesus.  That said, songs do promote values, messages, and lifestyles, and so we need to be careful about what we’re listening to.

The Jesus Movement took place in the late 60s and early 70s on the West Coast.  It saw a fusion of Protestant values with hippie ideals of love, peace, and community.  As the movement fused with popular sound Jesus Music was born.  Led by pioneers such as Larry Norman, Barry McGuire, Chuck Girard, Phil Keaggy and, later, Keith and Melody Green, Jesus Music took the US – and at least one church basement in Scarborough – by storm.

In his 1972 album Only Visiting This Planet, Larry Norman poignantly addressed the problem of popular music in his generation with two song titles; the first raised a question and the second offered an alternative.

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?
Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus?

Jesus Music gave way to the Christian Rock of the 80s (let’s all refrain from calling it “Heavenly Metal”) and this gave way to Contemporary Christian Music.  Jeans and t-shirts were replaced by spandex and dog collars; thankfully the trend has been reversed. Stryper, Petra, and the Daniel Band gave way to dc Talk, Audio A and Delirious, and now an entirely new generation of Christian musicians stands upon the CCM stage.

“Christian Music” has had its critics.  Let’s move on quickly from the idea that rock and roll music is evil or satanic; I trust we’re smarter than that now.  Many have criticized the idea of Christian music for Christians altogether, saying that Christians should be preaching to the unsaved.  Absolutely! But let’s not argue sides.  There are Christians making music for the saved and there are Christians making music for the unsaved.  Both are needed. We’re all on the same team, so let’s act like it.

Jesus Music in particular has been criticized as reflecting “immature Christian faith.”  And to be fair, lots of the leading musicians in the movement were new believers.  But they also preached the word with conviction, served the Lord with zeal, performed concerts for love offerings alone and turned down six figure record deals to, instead, give the gospel message away for free.  I’m a strong believer in growing up, but I think that when a lot of people grab hold of maturity they let go of their zeal.

Christian Music is not better than secular music.  But, as I’ve often cautioned my classes, we need to be careful about what we’re filling our minds with.  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

I don’t care what style of music you listen to.  I don’t care what artists you listen to.  I do want you to know that there is a choice and that, thankfully, the Devil doesn’t have all the good music anymore.  Most importantly, what I care about is your honest response to this question: is the music you listen to building you up, or breaking you down?

Matthew Westacott, OWI Youth Leader

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