Yesterday I talked about finding the sacred in the secular. Today, I want to give an example of what I mean, while getting to the point of this post. My current favourite band is Breaking Benjamin, and I can’t really recommend them to my Christian brethren, though there are many fans of theirs that are Christian; BB is alternative rock, secular, and like to add in the occasional (well placed) curse word. However, Ben (Benjamin Burnley, lead singer) writes music that hits people on different levels, and encourages fans to find their own meanings to their songs.
One of the reasons that I like this band is their ability to capture certain emotion, and I don’t just mean when they’re screaming at the top of their lungs (which they occasionally indeed do, to very good affect). And, I don’t just like them for the themes that their songs make me conjure up, though that is part of it. Sooner or Later, a song off their We are not Alone album, makes me think of Jesus and His position as King, and as a Lion, and of life and death without Him. Now, to make this perfectly clear; I do not think this was Ben’s intent in any way, shape, or form (the song is more a self-reflection style song, and they are not a Christian band, although we know Mark and Chad believe, and ex-band member Jeremy); however, this is what certain verse make me think about.
Sooner or Later
…You’re like an infantile
I knew it all the while
You sit and try to play me
Just like you see on TV
I am an oversight
Just like a parasite
Why am I so pathetic
I know you won’t forget
These lines call to mind the way Jesus is often portrayed by TV preachers; like He’s standing head bowed, hat in hand knocking on your heart’s door, begging, for His own sake, to be let in out of the cold. He’s also portrayed like a sure-fire celestial slot machine; a genie-type wish granter. On the other hand, legalistic TV preachers often portray Him as a cosmic killjoy. These images, that make me personally ill, stick in the minds of non-believers, and it definitely affects how they think about Him and even how they think about Christians.
People, even some believers, like to think of Christ as a Lamb, which He is; what they don’t like to dwell on is the fact that He is the Lion as well. He is both suffering servant and conquering King, He brings mercy and forgiveness but also a sword of truth… in fact, I read a non-Christian’s write-up about The Chronicles of Narnia in which Aslan, a lion, is the Christ-figure. The writer bemoans the fact that a lion is used; says it doesn’t fit Jesus’ character…he’s apparently never read the Bible, or he’s listened to too many of the “preachers” this song makes me think of.
…Just call my name
You’ll be ok
Your scream is burning through my veins
We are promised in scripture that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. All it takes to get the relationship going is for us to call upon Him with a true desire to know Him better in our hearts. When we do, He hears us, and wants that relationship too. One of the images I love to mull over is the idea that we are called sheep in the Bible…and sheep need a shepherd, ours just happens to be a Lion, full of power and protection for those that call upon Him, and He indeed should be a point of fear to those that come bringing trouble to His sheep.
…Sooner or later, you’re gonna hate it
Go ahead and throw your life away
Driving me under leaving me out there
Go ahead and throw your life away
These lines make me think of what will come to pass if someone dies still rejecting God and Christ, unfortunately, and also not to let those image of Christ being peddled on TV stick in your mind; learn of Him on your own, through scripture. If someone doesn’t come to Him, and embrace eternal life, they are in effect, throwing their lives away. Most humans, believers and non, and I really mean this, strive to make their way through life the best way they know how. Many people try to leave the world a better place than they found it…but in essence all of that, without Christ, won’t wind up having a permanent effect. Even those that don’t believe in anything acknowledge that; our short lives are over far too soon, and we will all probably be forgotten within two or three generations…but, with Christ, our lives find their true meaning, ultimate fulfillment, and we carry on after death, even to a new Heaven, and a new Earth.
Why is it such a bad thing to deny Christ…the next lines in the song change “Throw your life away,” to “Throw my life away.” By denying Christ, we are basically spitting on His life, and His death. He suffered horribly, and died so that we might live, and if we deny Him, we deny His life. The next go around, the lines get changed to “Throw our life away…” which is ironic, because the name of the album, as I mentioned is “We are not Alone,” God is with us, for sure, and the relationship He offers is such a close one, He offers to be with us in good times and bad, that He will never leave us nor forsake us…imagine throwing that relationship in the garbage… I love the power, and emotion in Ben’s voice, and the music to underscore the idea of a Person in the position of power, again, just in my own thoughts.
I have two main points in this post; first, just because something is indeed labeled “secular” doesn’t mean we can’t pull something out of it to add to our spiritual lives, we just have to be careful and follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. And Second, Jesus isn’t a pushover. He’s not a beggar. He’d not only the Lamb, but also The Lion. In Him, God’s Mercy and Justice meet, and He displays both God’s love and His power to mankind. Whatever the preachers push on TV, and there are some good ones alongside the bad, don’t forget the seek Him one-on-one and through the scriptures and really learn about Him.
For anyone interested, here’s Breaking Benjamin’s video for Sooner or Later at youtube:
Edited on March 19, 2010 to add this link to a relevant article; Breaking Benjamin interview. Ben and Chad mention issues of faith in the linked interview.