Put on then as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate heart, kindness, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you indeed were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:12-17, English Standard Version
I remember a year ago I moved up to southern Maine and began serving a local church as their pastor. Being an old church with few members, it could be said that it is a church replanting effort. One thing I wanted to do is get to know the surrounding community better. I found that many of the younger folks in the community, especially one community near my apartment in particular, could largely be labeled as hipsters. When I was living in the area and interacting with many hipsters on a daily basis, eventually I changed my clothing so that I was dressing a little more like them in order to better identify with them and share the Gospel. Then, eventually I really got into Indie music. I was already, to be honest, but really got into it and listened to it all the time. Over time I found that I was no longer just a guy dressing like a hipster and listening to Indie rock, but I had forgotten my purpose in dressing as I was and listening to the music I was listening to.
I began with noble intentions, but what happened was that I had lost my purpose and identity in something else because my identity was not grounded in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes, we can try to look a certain way and identify with a type of people so much that even with the noble intention of doing it in order to share the Gospel can be lost along the way and you can be just another face in the crowd.
I found that my relationship with God was suffering and something needed to happen. So, I began to be more intentional with my time each day. I would make time to read the Bible. I would take spontaneous moments to pray and do my own Bible studies/devotionals. Most importantly, I wouldn’t allow myself to listen to Indie music or any music as frequently as I was listening to it. I would listen to Indie music in the car on the way somewhere. I would listen to Indie music while reading. I would listen to Indie music at the coffee shop. I would listen to Indie music while walking somewhere. I would listen while going for a run. I would listen while taking a shower and getting ready in the morning and I would listen before going to bed at night.
What happened was that I had so much noise going on that it made it difficult for me to listen to God in an already noisy world.
It wasn’t the Indie rock that I still listen to. It was the fact that I was listening to it all the time. As I was listening the music kind of swallowed me whole and my identity was lost within it. Instead of reading God’s Word, praying, singing hymns/spiritual songs, and talking about them day and night, I was listening to and singing Indie music all the time. Instead of my life being grounded in the Gospel and living intentionally unto Christ, I had grounded my life in something else and was living intentionally unto that identity.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, he tells the church prior to the passage given above to put to death all earthly things and then in the passage provided to put on Christ. We are called to clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ. Clothe our minds, hearts, bodies, and all that we do is to be done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not an easy task and it’s not something that someone can just gravitate to in time. We are still sinful and are inclined toward sin, our worldly natures as Paul talks about at the beginning of Colossians 3. However, it takes being intentional. It means taking the initiative to live your life unto God. It’s not enough to simply read the Bible and go to a worship service on Sunday morning. That’s not committing your life to Christ, that’s committing a few hours of your life to Christ.
It’s a matter of making every single day a new day that you can glorify God, live thankful lives for His grace, and be a blessing to others.
This means being intentional, taking initiative, and putting forth a great deal of effort. If the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t on the tip of your tongue when talking to someone or isn’t at the forefront of your mind when going throughout your day, you need to ask yourself, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ really the foundation of my life? Is my identity in Jesus Christ or is it in something else?
I still wear what some would consider to be more ‘hipster’-like clothing and still listen to Indie rock on occasion and occasionally go to a concert, however, I spend more time simply not listening to any music every week so that I can allow my mind mind to wander into the realm of thinking more critically and not being numbed, or lulled to sleep by the soothing sound of my favorite genre of music. As a result of not listening to as much music/too much music, I have had a clear mind to think more about others and more about the Gospel of God.
I went from living a life that was defined by the depressing and hopeless sounds of much of Indie rock to a life that echoed the tune of Cold War Kids’ song Louder than Ever. A life where I found it difficult to hear God amidst the noise to a life where I could truly hear God louder than ever.
In a modern world where we are surrounded by technological noise in our homes, in our cars, in our workplaces, in stores, on the streets, and wherever we go, it is important as a Christian to live intentionally unto God while making the noise always secondary to our life in Christ and in the church.
May we be wise so as not to live our lives within an identity that is not Jesus Christ. May we not be fooled into thinking we are living for Christ when we are living for the world or for whatever just happens to please us throughout the day or week. May we take initiative to engage the culture around us with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to live each minute of each day for the glory of God loving God and others. Amen.