I was one of the thousands of people who took the time to read Leke Alder’s article on the #MusicIssue. It is a thought provoking piece that raised a number of questions, as much as it tried to answer others. I also read through a rejoinder by Sam Eleanya.
One of the major issues we have as Believers is our inability to maintain balance in the practice of our Christian faith. Right from the beginning, God has taken man through many phases in His bid to restore us back to His intended design and state of being. From the Lutheran reformation of the 16th century to this present time, God has continued the work of restoration He started after the fall of man. He began to gradually restore the truths that were lost during the Dark Ages and the Church continued to mature until we got to where we are today.
Exposition on the restoration moves of God is contained in the book, Emerging Remnants, written by my humble self. What has characterised post-Lutheran Reformation has always been two dominants extremes around the truth of God. And then we have a tiny minority that tends to maintain a balance between the two.
I gave this whole background in order to point out that one of the challenges we have is that of doctrinal extremes, which usually breaks us into different camps. You would find those who remain legalistic even though our salvation through Jesus Christ has brought us into liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 5:1). On the other extreme, we have those who now live in what I call absolute liberty, where boundaries that ought to separate us from the world have been pulled down, and worldliness creeps in unnoticed (1 Corinthians 3:1-3), which is an indication of a stunted spiritual growth.
Drawing from Leke Alder’s position, it is true that you cannot reach out to someone you already ‘condemned’ in your heart. That is not the position of Christ and it is an extreme legalistic position. I also agree that some of our folks who are professional musicians often find it difficult to survive spiritually in that world as result of so many distractions and temptations. But this also holds true for Believers in other sectors as well, because true Believers are wired to be different everywhere they are. This now brings me to one of the questions Leke Alder’s piece raised: Who is a Christian?
Is a Christian simply someone who is born into a Christian family or is given a Biblical name? Is a Christian someone who identifies with other Believers and attends church meetings habitually or intermittently? Were all the examples of artists that Leke Alder mentioned Christians before they delved into secular music? These are some of the questions the article raised. For me, a Christian is someone who does not necessarily identify him/herself as such, but who subscribes to the values and principles of Jesus Christ as found in His teachings. We may not be able to ascertain if at any point some of these guys were really Christians. To that extent we may need to cut them some slack.
My position on whether or not certain kind of entertainers should be allowed to perform in our meetings. There’s also an extreme to this. It is rife now in Nigeria to have all manner of entertainers including comedians come minister to Believers in churches. To what end really? Is it to bring the world to them in the church just because we don’t want the world to snatch them away? Or is it a membership drive strategy? To the extent that I would not allow just anyone to teach or impact my children, I would not support just anyone coming to minister to my folks if I were leading a congregation. When you stand to minister to people, I am not saying you have to be all angelic and without fault, but there are certain standards that must be in place. Paul mentioned some standards that should be met in order to minister to the people (1 Timothy 3:1-13). Even administrators in the early church must meet certain standards (Acts 6:1-3). There must not be a dissonance between what we feed the people and our own lifestyle, else we are not better than the hypocritical Pharisee. And our righteousness is expected to exceed that of the Pharisees to be accepted into the Kingdom.
I am certainly not against Christians (from my definition) taking up crafts as entertainers in whatever field. Because at the end of the day, we are known by the fruits we produce. I am also not so particular about whether God or Jesus is mentioned in a song, but I am very careful about what and whose music I listen to. I grew up liking Rhythm and Poetry (RAP), rock and other contemporary genres. When I became born again, at a stage in my growth, I became sensitive to lyrics. I now have loads of rap and rock music that bless my soul and my spirit. And all of them are gospel. It’s the same way I guide myself against movies with explicit scenes. Setting boundaries are important because the Bible warns against fulfilling the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). And some things may be permitted, but may not be expedient (1 Corinthians 6:12). While I do not condemn people based on their choice of music, when young people complain about struggling with impure thoughts, I ask them about the media content they are largely exposed to.
We must be careful however not to allow these boundaries to shut out those we are called to reach out to. It is important to make them feel welcome as much as possible and watch them grow into all that God has called them into. It is equally important to note that certain postures we assume could either validate or show disapproval for certain lifestyles, just as we make some treasury looters comfortable in our congregations. It’s important to define the boundary, while still maintaining balance.
God is raising a new generation of believers who would subject themselves to rigorous spiritual training and released to function in different sectors of our society, including politics and the entertainment industry. I used the term rigorous spiritual training because, we spend years and a lot of resources honing our skills and natural abilities, but give less attention to our spiritual development. You can’t function in the world system and prevail over decadence and moral bankruptcy, without adequate spiritual training. Unfortunately, our prevailing spiritual environment is not yet suited for that purpose. Prosperity, miracles, signs and wonders are the core emphases.
In conclusion, reading through some of the comments that followed Leke Alder’s article, it appears to me that some young people just got the approval and validation they wanted for their current choices. Balance is very important at every stage of our spiritual journey back to God. Extremes will slow us down, and sometimes give us false sense of accurate journey, and most importantly some might be misled or discouraged in the process.
Frederick Adetiba writes from Stellenbosch University, South Africa and can be reached on twitter @fredor4c.