before i get started today, i want to take a second and thank all of you who read monday’s post. i’m super thankful for all of you and appreciate you taking the time to read. if you missed monday’s post, i started a multi-day look at the song “church” by macklemore where i’ll be looking at different sections of the song and talking about where he and geo (aka prometheus brown) hit the nail on the head and also where they were a little wrong. if you’d like to read monday’s post, you can read it here.
i had some friends in college who, if you were to say the word “catholic” around them, would go on long-winded diatribes about how the catholic church was so wrong and how they weren’t really christians. i guess that would be par for the course at any conservative christian college but it was especially true at liberty university. those soapbox speeches always seemed to confuse me because, while i don’t think the catholic faith is without fault – no denomination or sect of christianity is – i grew up in an italian family where many people had catholic roots.
one of my earliest memories of the catholic church was at my great-grandma’s funeral. i was 7 years old and had never been around the catholic faith at all. i showed up and tried to keep up with the stand up, sit down, cross here, do this, do that liturgy of the service but i had absolutely no clue what was going on. then the priest said something in latin and, well, i barely understood english at that point in my life.
i think it goes without saying that i left that service with more questions than answers.
and that was just a funeral.
macklemore and geo both grew up catholic. if you listen to more of macklemore’s songs that have to do with religion, it’s pretty easy to see the catholic roots coming into the lyrics that he writes. wikipedia also says he was catholic and wikipedia is always a good source, right?
in the song “church,” both macklemore and geo have lines that illustrate a common thought among many about the church. first, geo writes:
i could never get past the s— that was spit out the pastor’s lips
and the rappers started making more sense.
later in the song, macklemore says:
in the back trying to read but see that something was off
maybe it was cause i was trying to huddle in the yard
preacher didn’t connect when he would mumble the psalms
what i believe geo and macklemore were both saying was that they went to church but didn’t understand or connect to what was being taught. when that happened, they turned to something else: rap music. the way that the bible was presented to them was boring, or it was confusing, or, at the very least, it simply wasn’t as engaging as the music they turned to.
one of my favorite things to do is teach people about the bible. i absolutely love doing it. i quickly learned that no matter how interesting i think something is, if i don’t have a way to draw people in and make things relevant to their life, they’ll never find it anywhere near as interesting as i do.
at the end of the day, i believe that’s the reason that rap won out over the bible for guys like macklemore.
for decades, the automatic christian response to questions about life has been, “because the bible says so.”
why shouldn’t we have sex outside of marriage? because the bible says so.
why can’t i go out and get drunk? because the bible says so.
why can’t gay people get married? because the bible says so.
for those of us who have studied the bible and know what it says, “because the bible says so” is an answer that we understand and comprehend. for an unbelieving world who simply wants to have fun, saying “because the bible says so” does absolutely nothing for them.
everything about the christian faith goes against what our bodies and minds naturally want to do. from the day that we were born, we wanted to do what felt best for us, whether that be stealing a cookie from the jar on the counter, lying so that our little brother took the blame instead of us, or one of thousands of other things. we lied, cheated, stole, and hurt without ever being taught how to. it’s what comes naturally.
the bible tells us to be truthful.
the bible tells us to be honest.
the bible tells us to give instead of take.
all of those things are totally and completely unnatural. they don’t make sense when in the context solely of “because the bible says so.” as christians, we must be able to take “because the bible says so” and explain it to others in a way that shows god’s heart for us. we have to be able to show that the “rules” set in front of us are not by some angry god who hates us but rather from a god who loves us more than we can imagine and wants to protect us.
when taken at face value, the bible can be a book that is all about dos and don’ts that overtake your life and cause you to be miserable.
when studied and understood, the bible is a book that is full of guardrails to ensure that you live a life full of freedom and joy.
pop culture is always going to make more sense than the bible on the surface. it’s easier to kick your shoes off, let your hair down, and go berserk all night long than it is to understand why god’s plan that’s laid out in the bible is actually better for you. instead of mumbling the psalms, or tweeting the verse that we read this morning, we’ve got to learn how to communicate a god who is very living and active to people who think he’s dead and boring.
the truth is the bible is the most epic story book in the history of the world. it’s filled with war, sex, drama, and any other thing that would make up a blockbuster movie. and it has zombies. i’m not even kidding. the bible has zombies. if you don’t believe me, go look up matthew 27:50-53. freaking zombies.
there are parts of the bible that i still don’t understand to this day. the thing that has changed my life the most from the bible is learning who god is and what he thinks about me. when those two things are understood, the rules and religion of the bible take on a whole different meaning.
are you teaching people rules and religion or are you introducing a person?
are you claiming because the bible says so or are you explaining god’s heart?
are you mumbling the psalms or are you sharing a life?
we can’t let the rappers make more sense than we do. the only way to change that is to start engaging people where they are and in ways they can connect with.
if we can do that, we can begin to turn an entire generation onto the freedom that we experience on an every day basis.
say your prayers and take your vitamins.
have a nice day.