I recently was inspired to listen to my Christian 80’s rock again. I always come back to Petra and Stryper as bands that not only had great music, but they had theology that not a lot of today’s music seem to be able find. This is not another blog about Christian music though it is about some of the theology that that music has brought back to mind.
The song Beat the System from the Album Beat the System by Petra 1985. I know that for today this phrase has more along the lines to mean “question authority, and fight the man, resist authority, find a way to circumvent the establishment.” But at the time it was more along the lines of fighting the world system of sin.
Not that battling sin is the purpose but doing things as Christ commanded as opposed to simply following after the world. It was that idea of being counter cultural. It was about actively subverting the flow. It acknowledges that to follow Christ is most likely not going to look like what the world is doing. This is the very definition that fills in what Jesus told his disciples they would have to do.
Jesus said that the disciples that follow him will have to bear their own crosses. Disciples who follow understand that he is more than savior, he is Lord.
I don’t know about you but the picture I get of carrying a cross is scary and it is not just the death part. See the death part makes sense, Jesus was put to death. Of his disciples James the brother of the beloved John was put to death before the close of the New Testament, he was beheaded. Another disciple that was brought up under the apostles teaching Stephen was put to death, stoned to death. John the baptist was also put beheaded for obeying the commands of God. Herod stretched out his hand and tried to Put Peter to death as well, he escaped. The apostle Paul was stones and persecuted and even appears to have died and rose again in the midst of his mission. Fox’s book of Martyrs tells the story of pretty much every other disciple being martyred as well.
In other words taking the call to follow Jesus seriously has consequences.
When Joe Banks was faced with his own mortality and asked what his interests were he said: “Courage, courage interests me.” Joe versus the Volcano (1990).
But does courage interest us as Christians, for the sake of the gospel?
It interests me truly, but I find also a lot of fear in my heart. I wonder if for many of us the bigger problem is not the death, that has almost a victorious sound to it. To be able to be counted worthy to die in such a way would be an honor for any Christian, not that I want to minimize the sacrifice at all. But I feel that it is the taking up and carrying the cross part that is difficult for most of us. Are we able to walk through the streets of our own neighborhoods and communities with a sign of death on our backs? Not just that but being ridiculed and mocked and accosted while we do?
If walking down the death march was easy I suppose many of us would do it. The problem is we don’t know the time frame from when we start walking to when our death sentence is carried out. Can I live in a world that hates me for standing on truth for a lifetime? Can I live as a pariah in my own community? Now I don’t relish at the thought of persecution nor should anybody, but do I live in such a way as to ever invite it?
Do we dare to beat the system or would we rather work as a shadow operatives? Please understand this in not an indictment but a real question that even I have to wrestle with. As the storms are gathering I ask myself am I willing to share my faith, and what that means for a dying and decaying country that wants to throw off all restraint? Am I willing to do this without sitting behind a computer screen? In case you aren’t one to read the headlines much, persecution for Christians in this country has begun. It is still only in its infancy, it has to figure out how legally it can do it, but if you are paying attention the wheels are already moving to shut up the voices of dissent that we the Christians have become.
It is ironic because the world system of sin that we are to counter is becoming one with our own system of government. One that wasn’t always that way. We are becoming a new Rome. Will we cry out that Christ is Lord and not Caesar? Or will we stay happy behind our closed church doors until the government comes to remove them?
I am not talking about revolution. I already wrote about that, I am talking about what Paul calls not being ashamed of the Gospel from Romans 1.
14. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
So ask yourself, ask and pray. Does courage interest you?