IT’S NO SECRET THAT WE ARE LIVING IN A WORLD WHERE IT’S INCREASINGLY UNPOPULAR TO BE A CHRISTIAN.
Standing up for the traditional Christian principles and promoting one way to God rubs against many of the mainstream media’s narratives that are being heavily pushed today. In Los Angeles’s mainstream music and arts industry, it’s arguably one of the least popular places to be a Christian.
All of this made it a bit shocking to me that Justin Bieber, the world’s number 1 artist on Spotify, would feel confident releasing his EP “Freedom.” this past month.
We all know that he has spoken out about his faith, but to me, this record was a bolder move as it was a specifically Jesus and gospel-focused album. Featuring the soulful melodies of Maverick City’s Chandler Moore and vulnerable spoken words from preacher Judah Smith, it provides a unique conglomeration of pop and Christian music.
Listening through this record had me contemplating the sacrifices and risks associated with such a musical endeavor.
Would we have done the same in his shoes?
Would we risk aspects of our career, finances, relationships, and ultimately our image to put God forward like he has?
It’s hard to know for sure because none of us have been the biggest musical artist in the world. But, I think it’s easy to say that we probably would struggle in some way if we had that many judging eyes pointed towards us every day.
It’s easy to stay where we’re currently at and also only use our musical gifts within Christian community and industry. We’re more easily accepted there, and it’s easy to be applauded for following a set of unspoken rules for using your musical gift than it is to stand out.
I believe God has blessed Justin and given him incredible favor because he has been willing to use his gifts in bold, uncomfortable, and risky ways for the benefit of the Kingdom. We show what we love by what we’re willing to sacrifice, just as Jesus demonstrated perfect, sacrificial love on the cross. Justin has a lot to lose, probably more-so than any of us or any Christian artist we know. You may not like his music or have opinions about his lifestyle choices, but he sure is using his platform to show God some serious love.
SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS?
1) I believe the scarcity of people in the mainstream music industry living as spiritually bold as Justin should make us realize that we need more Christians working in that field.
We’re called to be light in darkness which means we shouldn’t be running away from a darker industry. We should be running to it.
Many people come to me wanting to do what I have done and use their gift in Christian music. I truly wish everyone could see how much of an overflow of Christians there are trying to do ministry in Christian industry. There is no shortage of Coldplay-inspired Christian songs being made or people trying to get on a Christian stage – trust me. God needs people who are willing to go out into the world and represent Him well. There is blessing there.
2) There is also blessing in how boldly we approach our creative role within the church.
As I mentioned before, one of the ways we show God love by what we’re willing to sacrifice for Him. The whole premise of being a Christian is giving your entire life to God. So shouldn’t we want to give Him all of our creativity?
In the modern church, it can be viewed that sacrificing our creative expression and desires is the best way of humbly serving God and the church. That if we do what’s expected and follow the unspoken “congregational” rules of making and performing Christian music that we’re being pure, selfless, and mature.
There is absolutely something to be said about serving your leadership’s vision and staying within the boundaries of whatever position God has placed you in. However, as a principle, it is not healthy for us to applaud or promote suppressing the creative identity God has put within each of us, which derives from His own nature.
God did not plan to build a church that all looks and sounds identical and uses its giftings in a uniform manner.
Creativity can be selfish, but that does not mean doing something new, or developing your own sound, or departing from industry formulas is inherently selfish.
Anything can be done from a self-centered perspective. Being less creative or copying other people can very easily be self-centered because it’s an easy path to take in our industry to be applauded and find predictable financial success.
If we step out into doing something new, it can either end tragically or lead to a greater impact, influence, and revival than we’ve ever witnessed. It’s risky. It’s sacrificial. It show’s God that we love Him. It shows God that we trust Him. It shows God that we want to be more like Him. It serves the church by helping them encounter God in a fresh new way and showing them a new side of Heaven. God is blessed by your creativity.
What are you willing to sacrifice through your musical calling and gifting?
Follow Jordan on Instagram at @jordanholt_ for more creative discussions.
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