I enjoy people who are counter-culture with a purpose. People who are driven to be clear voices for what is right, what is good - but do it in a way that is unconventional. Radical! Have you heard of Shane Claiborne - author of The Irresistible Revolution? While in college, Shane interned at Willow Creek Community Church - one of the 10 largest churches in the US. He would have had a foot in the door in most churches with this pedigree - yet he decided to shun conventional "religious" wisdom. He moved in with the poor and destitute in Philadelphia, because he heeded a call to minister to those people. Not minister from a distance, but in and among those who needed what he had to offer them.
Another radical guy out there is Paul David Hewson. Growing up in Ireland during the 1970's, he eschewed conventional wisdom, rebelled against the religious culture at the time and accepted Christ as his personal Savior. He was a musician, as were 3 of his friends. Together with fellow Christians Larry Mullen, Jr. and David Howell Evans (a.k.a. “The Edge”), Paul (a.k.a. “Bono”) and these guys formed the rock band U2.
I am currently reading a book called Walk On - The Spiritual Journey of U2. The book is written by a Presbyterian minister from Ireland named Steve Stockman. In the book Steve uses quotes and interviews from those who were instrumental in the beginning and development of the band, as well as from the band members themselves, to shine a light on the religious overtones of the works of U2. He pours through twenty years worth of material, and shows that God is absolutely using these musicians to accomplish His work.
One of my favorite songs from U2 is I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. Listen to a live version here. In it, one verse reads -
You broke the bonds and
You loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Of my shame
You know I believed it
I know of One who did such things – Jesus! Psalm 116:16 states - O Lord, I am your servant; yes, I am your servant, born into your household; you have freed me from my chains. And 1 Peter 2:24 reads - He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.
The band receives criticism from the Christian camps, saying that they should be more vocal in their beliefs. And some of that criticism may be true. When they were more vocal in the early days, Bono grew tired of the constant criticism from the religious pundits. Bono has probably done more to help the destitute, sick, and abused than any single denomination has or will accomplish. His fame brings a voice, a voice to help.
For a recent concert, U2 decided it would be cool to do a show in the Rose Bowl. So as part of their 360 tour in 2009, they sold tickets to the Rose Bowl, as well as streamed that concert live on YouTube. Needless to say, in excess of 97,000 tickets sold, with over 10 millions views on YouTube in the first week alone. Can you name any Contemporary Christian Band doing that today?
I like to think that bands like POD, Creed, Skillet – some examples of whom have crossed over to the mainstream music world - realized from the example set by Bono and company. Maximum impact requires maximum exposure. Be unconventional, be radical. Why not aim to impact the whole world vs. just the Christian community? Shouldn’t that be our goal as Christians – to impact as many as possible? REBEL!