Am I a "Christian Musician"?
Many people, both in my every day life as well as in the music scene, have asked me if I am a "Christian musician." Recently, one of my favorite songwriters, Jon Foreman, who also happens to be lead singer of one of my favorite bands (Switchfoot), answered this very same question. I couldn't have said the following any better...
“To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.
The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.
Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.
None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.
I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that.
We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.” -Jon Foreman (Switchfoot)
When answering this question, I am confident in my own consideration of myself being a musician. Also, if being a Christian (beyond just simply being a religion) means someone who attests to having a relationship with Christ, then yes, I would consider myself to be Christian. But most importantly, I feel called to make music and live my life by way of doing what I have been called to do.. which is to love. As Foreman stated, "we have a call to take up our cross and follow... and these roads will be different for all of us." It is my hope that I also do not "box" myself or my life or my music into something that is for any particular group of people. I believe that my life is a story written by a great Author. I believe all those I meet and come across also have stories written by a great Author. I hope to create music and art to inspire... to love others... and to glorify God. -JJ