By Nathan Mark
This is an amazing world. Everywhere you look you see amazing things crying out that there is a God and He is an amazing artist. Take a walk through the woods and observe a spider crafting a web; it skillfully engineers its web with a substance it naturally excretes from its web spinners, a substance that has a tensile strength many times stronger than steel. Walk under a tree one hundred feet tall; its root structure spreads out for a mile and somehow, miraculously, opposing gravity, carries water to the very tops of the tree. Amazing.
It’s also amazing how we as Christians can look at the natural world and say all of these things declare the glory of God, but we look at many things about humanity and we make a huge distinction between “secular” and “Christian,” between holy and pagan. I remember having a moment as I walked through the streets of Chicago and took in the city skyline. It occurred to me that, just as I give glory to God for the amazing spider, God really deserves the glory for even things like city skyscrapers. It didn’t make me ask the question, “I wonder if the designer of these buildings was a Christian.” It didn’t matter. All of creation, including skyscrapers made by pagans, cry out that our God is amazing. What an amazing creation God made when he created mankind in His image with the ability to create.
As a worship leader who has been making music since I was in elementary school, people love to tell me how gifted I am. Now I could take this as a compliment and an ego boost, but I really take it as words of praise to God. We call the things that I can do musically “gifts.” But who really gets credit for a gift, the receiver or the giver? When you step back and realize that this really is His world and thus it is He that receives glory for all the wonder in it, it opens up so many things for which to give Him praise.
Take music for example. As Christians we tend to have a strong awareness of whether or not a song is “Christian.” If music was written by a Christian artist, then it is crowned as “Christian.” If it is written by a non-Christian artist, then it is dubbed “secular.” Now I am not saying that all music is the same and should be treated equally, but problems arise when we toe the line of distinction too fiercely.
Take the song “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman, a “Christian” artist. A song about a father and his growing daughter, it doesn’t use the word “God,” “Jesus,” “Bible,” or any other religious words. Yet this song is played on every Christian radio station in the country. Even though the song is missing all of these things, as a father, I can’t help but listen to it in worship and praise to God for giving me my beautiful daughters. The sad reality is that if the same song were written by Mumford and Sons, you can bet that it would not be played even once on a Christian station. There is a song written by Lonestar called “My Front Porch Looking In” that is all about a father who has traveled all around the country for his job and has seen amazing things; however, he feels that the best view in the world is standing on his front porch looking in the window at his beautiful family. I listen to that song and dance with my children, and I have a moment of worship that brings me to tears as I think about how much God has blessed me and how much I don’t deserve His rich blessings.
So I’m NOT saying there is no difference in music. I AM saying that we should be careful not to write things off as “non-Christian” or “secular” and miss out on many special opportunities to worship our Creator. Rather, I think things should be evaluated on the basis of whether it’s pointing you toward a closer relationship with Jesus or whether it’s pointing you away.
I was eating a banana the other day, and as I was opening the peel, it dawned on me just how amazing the banana was. I thought about the amazing peel that is perfectly designed to easily come open but at the same time to protect the fruit from bugs and bacteria. I thought about how bananas aren’t juicy like other fruits, but rather are almost creamy. In that moment I said, “Jesus, bananas really are amazing. They really are like no other fruit you have made.” I wasn’t eating a “Christian” banana; rather, I am sure that many people with broken lives like my own were involved in the farming of it. And yet, it was still something for which Jesus deserves glory. This is His world that He created. And although it has been tainted by our sin, Jesus still deserves glory for His amazing creation, secular or not.
“For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; [or spider webs, skyscrapers, or bananas J ] all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”