(Reprinted by permission from Abba News ĎZine.)
Christian music is at an all time high. Labels popping up like a spring sale before Christmas time. Bands are more musically divers with their eye on the mainstream market. Now with the good comes the bad. What have we turned into as Christians in a Christian industry? Deep down are we truly acting like Christians to one another? Or just undercover entrepreneurs in a dying world to a strong sales market? Bands being slandered for being Christian, and bands being slandered for not being Christian enough! Lyrics are changed to be more Christian to sell more albums. We need to draw the line. Who will set the standard or continue to be top dog in a copy cat world?
Whatís really funny is this situation that occurred at a show...This is crazy. I donít understand. I was at a show and I saw a kid with an MXPX shirt on. The kid had crossed out the MXPX logo with a circle and a line through it. To me this meant anti-MXPX. My first thought was why are you wearing the shirt? I asked him and he said he wasnít down with MXPX, he said," You know why...theyíre sell-outs?" I said, "What do you mean sell-outs?" How many other people are angered and frustrated with MXPX like this kid? I used to be frustrated with them too. Then God showed me how much damage I was really doing for the strong man, by running my mouth about MXPX. Who am I to view anyone other than myself? I am not God. God is in control of all things, even MXPX. He uses everything for His glory. Do we really know what impact for God MXPX is making? Only God knows that. And it really doesnít matter because Jesus is our Savior and He knows whatís going down. I read a Spin article a few months ago about MXPX. It didnít mention anything about God or their walk, but it did mention how they planned on remaining abstinent till they were married. This in itself was a witness, totally going against the grain of the worldís standards. They were willing to take a chance at persecution from the world for saying that in order to stand up for what they believe. Yet they are still accused of not being Christian enough. You would be surprised at how many people could come to know the lord through that. Who draws the line? Who sets the standards by which someone is measured a good enough Christian? God and God alone. Yet even some Christian bookstores wonít carry MXPX because they arenít Christian enough. I wish that sometime a manager or music buyer would go see what kind of punk rock kids are really buying. They would probably reconsider some of the thoughts they have had on MXPX when they even look at the album covers of some secular punk bands, let alone hear the lyrics. MXPX delivers a positive message. A message ultimately inspired by Christ. Do you think most punk bands sing about their fiancť like Mike Herrara does? Do they show the kind of love and respect Christ would have you treat a girl like Mike does in his song "Andrea"? No, they donít. But because these lyrics donít contain a directly evangelical message does this warrant to disrespect and trash something God has given? People really just donít understand what this band is really doing. This anti-MXPX kid, along with others who feel the same way, are causing more confusion than the band MXPX ever did. There are things that can be controversial with anyone or any band. Even Jesus himself was controversial. He healed someone on Sunday. But it destroys Godís kingdom when brothers are tearing brothers down. Whatís so funny is think of a non-believers standpoint. The only thing that they see is a Christian having something against another Christian. Why would they want to be a Christian, to be a part of persecution?
Another band getting persecuted is Puller. Some have a problem with non-Christian members in their band. And I can understand. It may cause someone to stumble. But how many more opportunities does Mike Lewis (lead) have to share the gospel, not just to the world but to his own band. Are we an elite group? How can someone call themselves a Christian if they are pointing the finger determining what choice is right or wrong for Mike to make? God is so in control and so mighty, He is so much bigger than that. Puller, along with many other Christian bands are given a hard time because they do not always share the gospel from stage or given an altar call. A couple of months ago, I sat down with Mike and he had some good stuff to say about this. His point was that a kid will be impacted a lot more by the CD they buy than by the 45 seconds that he says something on stage. They leave the show listening to his CD. And six months down the road when they break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend theyíre listening to his CD, when their parents divorce, they are listening to his CD. Thatís a lot more powerful than the few words he said at a show that theyíve forgotten.
Five Iron Frenzy has gotten a lot of criticism lately for their participation on the Ska against Racism tour. They toured the country with several secular bands, including Less Than Jake. Because of the secular nature of the tour, Reese did not feel compelled to preach from the stage. Think about it this way, it is disrespectful to come into someone elseís environment and to force something on them. Jesus did not force himself on people. He sat down with people, tried to understand people, and answered questions they ask. People were drawn to Jesus because of the spirit in Him. This same spirit can be seen in Five Iron Frenzy. Kids know that there is something different in them; they donít have to say anything. FIF relied on Christ shining through their music and their attitudes to witness to this non-Christian crowd. Yet they received persecution for this. Other Christians have condemned them for what the considered compromising and not preaching from the stage. Isnít God so much bigger than a few words spoken by a man behind a microphone? It isnít because Reese Roper or Mike Lewis says something about Jesus from staged that a kid in a crowd gets saved. It is because the Holy Spirit moves in his life. It is because the lord uses something, anything, to reach that kid. It doesnít have to be a band or a lead singer. It could be the lyrics, straight from the heart of the writer, inspired by God. It could be the bandís attitude that provokes someoneís jealousy. A kid might wonder: Why are they different? Why didnít they swear? Why did he smile at me? The Holy Spirit works in many and different ways. God knows what He is doing. He did not put FIF in that position just for the kids at shows either. Think about the impact that they had on the other bands on tour. These secular bands saw something in FIF that they have never seen in any other band they have ever toured with Jesus. Yet FIF is accused of not being Christian enough and compromising. FIF probably had more of an impact touring the nationís secular venues than they ever had before. And instead of condemning them for not preaching at a show that we probably did not even go to, letís listen to their testimony about what God did on tour, and know that He works in ways we will never understand.
Even more disturbing is bands like Joy Electric who claim to be a Christian band and get a lot of mainstream press donít get the respect that they deserve in the Christian industry, the only place they want to be in the first place. Whatís weird is that tons of other bands would die to get the press exposure Joy Electric has gotten. Jeff and Ronnie really donít care about the mainstream press, "We just want Christian kids to dig us." Jeff and Ronnie have no control over who likes their music. They would much rather have a huge write up in 7ball then Spin any day, even though Spin has millions of more readers than 7ball.
Another entity receiving persecution is Tooth & Nail records. I know people who have taken T&N stickers off of their car because of the labels involvement with non-Christian music. I wonder if these people really have any idea how many kids have gotten ministered to by T&N bands. How many kids have come to know the Lord as a direct result of T&N believing in a band enough to invest in that bandís ministry and send them across the country to share what God has given them. But no...T&N receives persecution for not being Christian enough for mingling with the secular world. People condemn this label. Persecute this label. Do they really know what theyíre talking about? Even youth pastors call T&N and verbally condemn the label. Have they ever sat down with someone from T&N and spent time with them, prayed with them, ask them about their goals, or where theyíre coming from? I doubt it. If you have any qualms or question, maybe even doubt about something or someone donít tear down the (whole) Kingdom by ridiculing or criticizing a fellow brother in Christ or even someone who may think they know Christ. We need to correct and rebuke out of love in a godly way intimate face to face, one on one with you the other and your Father. If we donít forgive how can our Father forgive us? Do we really know how much of a fool we really are when one moment we say with our tongue "IíM A CHRISTIAN" and then next say "he is not." We need to be quick to forgive, quick to repent, and quick to forget. Jesus can make the rocks cry out, can move mountains, and save my soul and yours. Donít you think He is in control, Sovereign, Almighty, All-knowing, and Creator of this planet?
Brothers and sisters of all kind, creed, and color, letís come together and uplift and carry each other...think beyond our short comings and ideas of how things should be. And know the only way it is, the Holy Spirit with discernment and the Holy Bible. If we truly love the Lord and seek His face, we wouldnít have the division and fighting amongst His people.