It was a very cold South African morning. We were cooking in the kitchen and our South African brother Jaco (pronounced “Yaku”) was teaching me and my friend Matt how to make a traditional dish called “pop”. Me and Matt had gotten into a discussion about how Eminem was the best rapper of all time while Jaco quitely tended to the boiling pot. (Eminem came up because we were making up a song that went “A mili a mili a mili-POP” which is a Lil Wayne reference hence Eminiem…anyways.) Suddenly Jaco turned around and startled us in an unusually upfront manner saying, “Why do you guys listen to that crap?”
“Oh, he’s one of those no-secular-music Christians” I thought. Me and Matt both fumbled over our words as made sorry excuses about how Eminem was just talented and we appreciated that and we liked working out to his music and he really doesn’t use THAT many sexual references…blah blah blah…
Jaco teaching our brother Lazi how to cook
That question that Jaco so innocently asked me with has again and again challenged me over the past year.
“Why do you guys listen to that crap?”
Why do I listen to that crap. I didn’t know.
I was recently complimented on being a “relatable” Christian because I can be in the world but not of it. The example they gave was that I listened to secular music. Yes, I like GOOD music. I appreciate real artistry. I’ve recently come to really dislike pop music, both secular and Christian (yes, there is such a thing). But something else has also changed in my musical tastes this past year. I’ve significantly cut down on the amount of secular music I listen to. Now, before you go and think I’m “one of those” types of Christians, I’m not. I love Bon Iver. I will always love The Killers. I like The Civil Wars, Lorde, Arctic Monkeys, Blink 182, Queen, Lana Del Ray…
But something I’ve felt convicted on personally these past few months, is not whether the music I listen to is “Christian” or not, but if it is edifying. Now regardless of if you like the artists I listed above or not, try to understand my point. I used to listen to KIIS FM or AMP Radio all the time. If there were commercials, I’d switch over to Power 106. Now the first two are ALL pop (ugh) and the last one is pretty much all rap. Most secular rap and pop is about sex, drugs, and alcohol.
Now tell me, what business do I, an unmarried Christian woman who is dedicated to staying pure until marriage, have listening to songs about sex? Even if I’m staying physically pure, what business do I have filling my mind with lyrics about “talking dirty to me” and “if you wanna keep me, you gotta love me harder”? I don’t. Plain and simple. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, as someone who genuinely desires to glorify Jesus with all that I do, I have no business filling my mind with such thoughts.
And people, it doesn’t have to just be songs about sex. It can be about self-glorification. It can be sacrilegious (Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” anyone?). And yes, that song is SO catchy. Love his voice. But have you taken time to examine the lyrics? He’s equating a woman and his sexual relationship with her as being the same thing as going to church. Which is idoltary. Which is a sin.
Am I making you slightly uncomfortable yet? You probably really like that song huh? Guys, we are SURROUNDED by a culture that is heavily influenced by the media. The music we listen to, the books we read, the websites we visit, the movies we watch. We think these are minimal, menial parts of our lives. But I tell you, they are a HUGE door for the enemy to enter into our lives. The enemy? Yes, Satan.
1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
The enemy prowls around seeking someone to devour. And that someone is you. It is me. Guys, how easy is it for you to listen to a song. A catchy pop song that the artist probably didn’t even write personally. You just like the sound of their voice. The tune is catchy. But what are the lyrics about?
Family, our ONLY goal in life is to live a life that reflects Jesus. He created music. He is the ultimate composer. He designed us to love music; to express ourselves through it and be touched by it. The issue is not whether we like Christian or non-Christian music. The issue is whether it is glorifying to God. If our purpose in life is truly to glorify Jesus, then that includes honoring Him even through the media we intake. The lyrics we allow to fill our minds.
The reason I was convicted, was that as I continued in ministry, as I further pursued a deeper relationship with Jesus, I didn’t have peace listening to songs that were about anything but Him. And if they weren’t about Him, then they had better not be dishonoring to Him.
So this is my challenge to you. Do you love Jesus? If so, I challenge you to surrender your media to Him. I mean saying, “God, here’s what I fill my mind with. I’m giving you the authority to clean out what You don’t like.” If that scares you or makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably because you know there’s some junk you should get rid of.
I finally figured out why I listened to that crap. It added to my sense of self. It fueled my pride. My life wasn’t centered around Jesus, so neither was the music that I listened to, or movies that I watched, or articles I read. And God told me it was time for that to change.
It was time for me to change.
I’m not saying secular music is bad. It’s absolutely a personal conviction. I’m simply asking you to defend why you listen to the music that you listen to. Guys, we have to put the armor on. And that means protecting our minds. Your body is a temple. Treat it as such.