I don’t think [...] that songs, films, poems, etc. produced by Christians must always present life in an ideal state. Francis Schaeffer wisely stated that the art produced by Christians should have a major theme and a minor theme. The minor theme is sin and the major theme is redemption. Both must be present in an artist’s corpus of work if he is to be faithful to his calling.
I think this analysis is both existentially and Biblically correct: Christianity is the one worldview that manages to suspend both of these themes (major and minor) in such beautiful balance. It makes sense that the real truth would be somewhere between nihilist jihad and rose-colored positive thinking.
We tend to think of balance in terms of middle-of-the-road mediocrity. This picture is all wrong. We ought to think of balance in terms of a perfectly honed knife-edge, or a well-trained gymnast, in the sense that true equilibrium requires exactitude. Anyone can fall over. It takes the grace of God to stand.
This is one of the main reasons why I so appreciate artists like Derek Webb or Todd Agnew who are not afraid to deal with the "minor side," even if it means talking about sin, doubt, and other politically incorrect stuff. Let's not kid ourselves: mainline Christianity has developed a status quo, and it's not the same one we read about in the New Testament. Our faith is less than real if it shrinks away from the uglier side of life, whether this is ugliness in ourselves, ugliness in others, or the raw and infected ugliness of the world. Believing in Jesus is not just fun-and-games - according to Paul, it's anything but.
We must embrace this two-edged character of life in our art, our liturgy, and our worldview. This is somewhat difficult for those of us in the conservative stream, as we tend to be rather suspicious of anything that threatens our sense of holiness. This suspicion is for the most part justified, but there is an important difference between celebrating sin and merely recognizing it, and we do not want to be found taking shortcuts and trying to prop up an illusory righteousness. As I John 1 says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves; and the truth is not in us."
I do not want this post to be confusing because it is coming right on the heels of a post about evil. Let me clarify that I am not suggesting a life that mixes a little good with a little evil - but simply a life that takes sin and evil into account. (Of course, we could turn to Ecclesiastes 7 and talk about that, but I think I'll save that for another day.) This taking of sin into account is not to callous us to its presence or drive us to despair, but to cause us to come broken before God and allow Him to wash away the incriminating weight.
"And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."
- Matthew 21:44
- Matthew 21:44
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