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A recent conversation got me thinking about music. Someone asked atheists in the group if they found any enjoyment in religious music, and someone else mentioned the idea that Christian music tends to be pretty lame. While I agree that most styles used in Christian music is not really my thing, I am not about to bash on someone who is just doing there thing, from a heart that worships Christ, – even if the style is one I’d rather not listen to.

However, the observation was made by someone else that their problem with a lot of pop Christian music is that it comes off as insincere. Unauthentic. Like they are trying to hard to sound like their secular counterparts, and in the end just sound kind of canned.

When I think about this a bit, I tend to agree. Obviously I can’t know the copycat artists from the genuine ones that I just don’t like their product. I could speculate, but I can’t really know their hearts. So I won’t try. But here’s the thing. Most of what gets played on Christian radio, I can’t really relate to. Part of the problem, I think is that most of it is made with a praise song mentality. Like every song, ever lyric has to be a worshipful experience, or something that could be played in church. And for many Christians, they have this idea that negativity is not allowed. In person, at church, we tend to paste on the mask. We smile and give the proper Christian-ese response, but meanwhile our life is in flames and our heart is tormented within us. We know we sin. We know we have flaws and struggles and problems and bad days. But for some reason we don’t think we’re supposed to voice those things. And I think to some extent Christian music has adopted this as well. By and large, what I hear on Christian radio is a happy-go-lucky, rainbows and kittens all day long, cheer-fest.

And that is just simply NOT my life.

 Don’t get me wrong, I am a pretty upbeat and positive person. I’m often the annoyingly cheerful guy that makes my coworkers roll their eyes on Monday mornings. But that’s not my life 24/7. I have sleepless nights, and frustrations, and relationship drama, and temptations. Like any one else, I go through the ups and downs of life, and sometimes the downs are pretty down.

 I think that is why Christian music is often regarded as unauthentic. Because that’s just simply not how life feels to most people. Even Christians.

 Now all of that just sets the stage for this …. If it’s not the cheery, all-happy-all-the-time music that gets me, what is it?

 I’m a rock and roll guy, especially hard rock and metal. Always have been. Much of what passes as rock from the Christian music industry can come off as if they’re trying to hard. I like the words and the sentiment, but it just doesn’t connect with me. Metal is a genre that has always shown the gritty, raw side of life. It may be one of the few places left where you can get unfiltered emotion in music. And in that rawness, I see in the lyrics and the emotion, a recognition of the brokenness of mankind. What Christianity refers to as The Fall. I can connect with the darkness I hear in that music, because I see that same darkness in me. A darkness which Christ died on the cross to bring light to.

 Then I got reflecting on other genres.

 I’m in Texas, so country music came to mind first. Whether we’re talking Hank and Merle and Willie or George and Garth or Toby, and everyone in between, there is an idea of “work hard, play hard” in country music. Country folk tend to understand the struggle of just trying to get by in a world where it’s struggle. The term “redneck” comes from folks stooped over working all day in the sun. And when quittin’ time comes, they seek to disconnect from the struggle and live it up.

 Good old fashioned rock n roll tends to have a one-finger-salute to authority with a no-rules attitude. Live fast. Die young. And leave a pretty corpse. It’s all of those rules that chain us to the dreary dullness of life. The message of rock n roll is to live it up. Seize the moment while you can because you don’t know what kind of hardship or trouble might be waiting around the corner.

 Hip hop and rap tend to have this focus on sex drugs and money. It’s a give in to your temptation, enjoy the pleasures of the flesh, sort of attitude. Find satisfaction in material things and raw pleasure. But if you think about it, this genre is born out of a culture of poverty. Like country where every day is a struggle, the hip hop culture faces a different kind of struggle, but the answer is similar. Lose yourself in a good time. The good time may get defined differently, but the purpose is the same.

 In fact, all of these, and others (we could keep going), tend to reflect a common thread: the brokenness of mankind.

 Music is art, and art is best when it reflects the raw emotional and heart of the artist. And the art that is being produced by our popular musicians is screaming that something is wrong with the world. Things do not seem to be as they should, and so different groups have their different ways of coping with this fact.

 This gets to a basic truth of life, which we all intuitively know: something is wrong. We have in us a desire which this life cannot meet, and as CS Lewis pointed out, if there’s a longing that this world cannot fill, then we were made for something more.

 The Bible explains this emptiness, this unfulfilled longing, this brokenness we experience. God did not create us for this world as it is. It’s broken. We were created for a full life, a joyful life, with God, who is the source of life. But mankind rebelled. Whether you buy the story of the Garden of Eden as literal or not, the truth still remains that mankind’s heart is turned away from God. We don’t want Him to be God. We want to be our own gods.

 And in our state of rebellion we are cut off from the source of that which we really need. We still recognize something is missing, though instead of returning to God to find it, we seek to fill that void with something else. Empty, temporary pleasures that never satisfy. That cannot satisfy. There is never enough money. Never enough sex. Never enough alcohol. You cannot drive a car fast enough to get away from it. No amount of rebellion gets you rid of it. No anger filled yelling into the face of the void will change one bit the fact that we have this persistent need that this world cannot fulfill.

 That need is only met by God, and the brokenness can only be healed by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

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