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I noticed something interesting on a Facebook group that one of my friends signed me up for. I don’t want to give away the group name, but the purpose of the group is to celebrate all of the great (and not-so-great) Christian rock music that individuals in my age range grew up listening to. I’m not an active participant in the group, but it’s fun to read the myriad of posts that consistently show up in my news feed. It’s a bit nostalgic and embarrassing to realize that a few of the bands I adored back in the day weren’t very good. The innocence of youth I suppose.

One of the sad realizations that I came to just this past week are the numerous posts that read something like this: “Yeah man. I was in youth group and went to all of these festivals and I loved Band A, Band B, and I always thought Band C kinda sucked. I’ve since left Christianity though…”

After seeing this post in various formats show up at least every couple of days I started wondering what the dichotomy was between the upbringing in Christian culture and their current spiritual reality. Why didn’t all of the time spent listening to Christian music translate into a life-long journey with Jesus? I’m still not certain that I have it nailed down; but I have a working hypothesis.

The key word in the previous paragraph is “culture.” I firmly believe that we can do all the Christian stuff and still never truly experience Jesus. I’ve worn the t-shirts, bought the albums, attended the concerts, sat in the conference arena seats, and invested the entirety of my teenage years in every sort of Christian culture/subculture activity possible. Yet towards the end of my senior year of high school, even with the indoctrination of all things Christianese, I took a long detour from the narrow path that Christ instructs us to travel.

My hypothesis for the wide interstate is because I fell fully in love with a culture instead of falling fully in love with Jesus. I was still a Christian, but the culture was far more alluring than actually spending significant time on my knees in prayer and seeking the face of the One who IS and will forever BE. Sometimes Christian music doesn’t influence us to follow Jesus; it’s just good music with a more positive message. But it’s not the inherent timeless word of God.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love church camps, conferences, Christian shows, and the reality that God moves in particularly awesome fashion through those avenues. I know several Christian artists that have a huge heart to reach the lost and encourage the church. I don’t think the problem is the Christian culture – it’s the temptation to turn the culture into a substitution for a relationship with the Risen Lord. If we find ourselves yearning for those experiences more than growing our relationship with Jesus in the day-to-day I think it’s wise for us to ask ourselves, “Am I in love with the Christian culture or am I in love with Jesus?” I think it’s possible to be both. Yet, I also believe we should be mindful of the temptation to idolize a particular aspect of Christian culture at the expense of what it means to pick up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

Be encouraged this week to pursue falling more in love with Jesus. It’s okay to turn up your favorite Christian music to 11 – as long as your private devotion to Jesus sans music does the same.

Til next time,