Secular Music Can Carry the Gospel

 Leon Bridges - River

Lately I have been checking myself on what music I should and shouldn’t be listening too. I keep hearing other Christians talk about how secular music is bad and is not the sound of God and how unpleasing to God it is. Yes, I do believe there is music out there that is not only bad for Christians but bad for everyday people as well. There is obvious music, such as satanic music, that glorifies and worships the devil. But with main stream music, I think people often forget that there is history to an individual before the music. A person who creates music tells a story. That story isn’t always bright and sunny especially if that story is true. Like the bible, when it comes to music, we need to make more of an effort to discern what an artist is saying within their music. There could be pain, joy, depression, suicide, fear, and hope. But because they are not symbolizing God in front of others, especially Christians, not they are all of a sudden “less than” just like in the United States Constitution where slaves were considered on 3/5 of a man.

So, while there is a lot of garbage music out in the world, there is artist that have pushed God in to mainstream music and just like Jesus was rejected. Perhaps we wouldn’t look at secular music so negative if we took the time to discern the lyrics like we should be taking the time to discern the word. Perhaps we wouldn’t look down on music artist if we accepted them, or anyone else for that matter as who they are as Matthew 11:28-30 says. We spend way too much time judging and not enough time finding out why people are saying the things they are saying to begin with. We no longer want to work, we want things to be handed to us. That is not our purpose. We must not only bring others to Christ but we must continue to bring ourselves to Christ for if we don’t, we will be as lost as the commoner on the street. So allow me to share song that are secular that carry the gospel. For the sin that we are in, are we not secular seeking out through scripture that which will save us and give us salvation?

One of the first songs I ever heard that carried Jesus was Lionel Richie’s “Jesus Is Love”. What a powerful ballad. Even when the song was performed live, The Commodores understood the importance of playing that song at a concert. In doing my research, I found out that if he ended up performing this song, it would’ve killed his career. Well, if people meant kill it in a good way, then he knocked it out of the park and made the angels sing. The song just makes you pause and stand in awe of what God can truly do. You can listen to the entire track here by Lionel Richie. The song, is to this very day is powerful.

Another power song was called “Everything Is Gonna Be Alright” by Al Green, the song is very upbeat and comes off his 1987 album Soul Survivor. Now, in the traditional black church, this is something I couldn’t see being sung by anyone in the church. More people would be concerned that the beat would be “too secular”. My response, one, if your heart is in the right place and God knows it, is it truly unpleasing to God. Second, a wolf can be in sheep clothing. That said, leadership shouldn’t judge. They only nurture and enhance those that continue to glorify God.

Now probably one of the most interesting person on this list is Kanye West. I know you just I rolled but follow me. During the ’04 BET Awards Kanye performed his hit song “Jesus Walks” and he did it with Gospel legend Yolanda Adams. Regardless of what you think of Kanye today, I ask that you read from the second hook to last verse of his song:

God show me the way because the Devil’s tryin’ to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me)
The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now (I want Jesus)
(Jesus Walks)
And I don’t think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs
(Jesus Walks with me)
I want to talk to God, but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long
(I want Jesus)
God show me the way because the Devil’s tryin’ to break me down
The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now
And I don’t think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs
I want to talk to God, but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long, so long
So long
(Jesus Walks with me)
To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(Jesus walks for them)
To the victims of welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah
(Jesus walks for them)
Now hear ye hear ye want to see Thee more clearly
I know He hear me when my feet get weary
Cause we’re the almost nearly extinct
We rappers are role models we rap we don’t think
I ain’t here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I’m just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that’s the way I need Jesus
So here go my single dog radio needs this
They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tape
But if I talk about God my record won’t get played
Huh?
Well let this take away from my spins
Which will probably take away from my ends
Then I hope this take away from my sins
And bring the day that I’m dreaming about
Next time I’m in the club everybody screaming out

 

So much truth is embedded in this text and this is why I still play to this very day. Jesus walks with all of us. All the time and everywhere we go.

My fourth secular artist that I will talk about is Leon Bridges who not to long ago released an album called “Bridges”. From an MTV article, Bridges spoke about where the song River. Bridges spoke about the dark place he was in around the time he wrote this song. I am so glad I bought this entire album. It’s truly amazing how we can all connect when we truly speak and someone is there to truly listen. The video also reflect on the Baltimore Uprising. There is such pain but such truth in this music video. But what got me was just how this young man was able to bring everything together to tell such an important story of racial injustice and depression. Such talent can not be confined into one category.

Last but not least is easily one of the greatest artist ever, and I do mean ever, is Michael Jackson. From the Moonwalk to is movie like music videos, Michael has made his mark in both American and World History. But one of his greatest songs that even Gospel radio stations still play is “Man In the Mirror”. To give some context Andrae Crouch, who passed away on January 8, 2015, created at least 7 songs that have a gospel meaning though it was sung by pop artist. Just in case you need a reminder of how powerful the lyrics are, allow me to bless you with the first verse along with the hook…

I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right…
As I turn up the collar on my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin’ my mind
I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat
Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs
A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man’s soul
They follow each other on the wind ya’ know
’Cause they got nowhere to go
That’s why I want you to know
I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
So what am I saying after all of this. Does every secular song carry the gospel in it? Well, if you are willing to properly discern it, it might but I doubt it. I guess what I am really trying to say is that Christians are spending way too much time being dismissive of everything and at the very least need to continue to analyze the world around them. Stop judging so quickly of what someone would say and try to understand why they are saying it in the first place. God can use everyone and everything and everyone and everything can carry the message of the Gospel. So, instead of looking just at the people look for the Gospel in the people.

 

 

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