I have Elton John’s “Your Song” on a playlist that I have as I drive in my car. As I was listening to it the other day, I was impressed by the nature of the song. It is a love song, but the lyrics are awkward. The aim is not to woo a person by stringing together words with explosive meaning. Rather, Elton John’s love song is full of disclaimers, clumsily narrating the difficulty that goes into writing a love song.
The point appears to be, writing a love song is tough. My lover hears “I love you” by hearing of my process of writing this song, more than the words that I use in the song. Indeed, what could be more encouraging to hear than for our lover to struggle to find the exact words to describe the larger-than-life reality of being in love?
Which is a really cool way of writing a love song. It is subversive, surprising, and disarming. It allows one to hear “I love you” in a different framework. Unpredictability, it seems, has a higher decibel level.
Hearing is central to the Christian faith. Paul says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing from the word of God.” Jesus says, “to those who have ears, let them hear.” However, familiarity prevents fresh, faithful hearings of our message. Part of being a messenger is not just getting a message out, but getting a message across. If there ever was a group of people that might need to consider fresh, new ways of presenting their message, it is the church of Jesus Christ. (Can I hear an Amen!?)
I have a friend Mike who did this very thing. His group did a judgment house that some churches do around Halloween. Most churches present different people dying and arriving at two different destinations after death, heaven or hell. At the end of this judgment house, people then are given a choice to choose Christ so they will arrive in heaven after death. This appeal is often, “If you were to die tonight (like our actors) where would you go?”
Mike’s judgment house was different. At the end, instead of asking “Where will you go after you die?” Mike’s group altered the ending with two different doors. Instead of presenting destinations after death, Mike’s group presented two doors to walk through while someone is alive, stressing the life that Jesus offers today. At the end Mike’s group said, “What if you don’t die tonight? What will you do with your life now, today, tomorrow?”
This is a fresh witness to Jesus. Without relinquishing the afterlife reality of the Christian faith, Mike’s group calls people to be disciples, not just deciders. Instead of framing the Christian life around a post-mortem reality, Mike’s group would say, “Are you going to take the opportunity to live before you die?” Which appears to be what the lion’s share of the NT is concerned about, anyway.