U2 show the Church the way

James Preston 6 8:02 AM
I was one of the privileged 100,000 people at Joburg's Soccer City to witness the event that was U2 doing what they love and do best; performing their music live.  It was one of the most exciting nights of my life.

Mostly because U2 are by far my favourite band, but also because I was standing right up front, and their live performances are just downright mind-blowing.

My love for U2 was sparked back in my early days of being a "Christian", when I would DJ at people's parties around town.  One night I was DJ-ing at someone's 21st.  As with most 21st parties; the only sober people at 1am were usually the DJ and the waiters.  I slotted in U2's "Pride" to the playlist, and the dance floor went absolutely ballistic.  A bunch of drunk people with a clear passion for life screaming "what more in the name of love!?" at the top of their lungs.  Did they even know what they were singing?  Probably not.  Does that change the fact that the music is deeply significant, influential and downright powerful?  No.

I remember weeping as I stood and watched these people belt out this heavenly anthem with all the passion and heart they had.  The song had struck something deep within their hearts.  A song about sacrificial love, resonating in the hearts of people who probably had never given it much thought.

I packed everything up around 3am, unloaded back home, and sat on my bedroom floor crying my eyes out.  Why?  I don't have a specific answer.  But it had a lot to do with the fact that people who had no idea how much God loved them and how good God actually is, had a very clear ability to recognise real, authentic love and passion when they heard it.  In this case, the heart of an Irish rocker.

Why is it that all of mankind have such a heartcry, but the church, who have the response to that cry, have no idea how to meet that heartcry?  But a larger than life, eccentric rockband meet it with ease?  Where did we go wrong?  I was ruined.

From that day on, U2 has been at the top of my "most played" playlist.  Songs like "Where the streets have no name", "City of blinding lights", "Yahweh", "40", "Still haven't found", "White as snow" portraying God's Love and heart better than some of the world's best preachers.  Everything this band do, in particular Bono, has a sense of Godly purpose.  Interviews, music videos, live shows, album artwork, the music itself.  All communicating something of a God who desperately wants to invade this broken world with His Love.

This significant concert at Johannesburg's Soccer City emphasized all this.  100,000 people, most unchurched and uninterested in church, amazed by the performance they were receiving.  Singing the likes of "Amazing Grace" and "I believe in the Kingdom come..." with boldness and complete freedom, without worry of what their friends may think.  Because if U2 sing it, it is cool.

It's funny how the church and religious are the ones who will question whether U2 and Bono are really Christians.  If you tell an unchurched friend that U2 are Christian, they'll have little difficulty believing it.  It's so typical of the system we're part of.  Not much has changed  since Jesus came to Earth as the Messiah and was rejected by the very ones who should have recognised Him first!

Like Jesus, Bono and his band look like ordinary people, act like ordinary people, actually relate to ordinary people, and love ordinary people.  Jesus felt at home when he was dining with swearing, cheating tax collectors, prostitutes, drunkards and gluttons.  He loved those atmospheres.  And they loved Him because He had no airs or graces about Him that made Him "above them".  They felt like He was part of them.  And so, as they felt more at home in His Presence, they would open their hearts to His Message of Love.

We Christians are so religious.  We sit with swearing, drunkard cheats and something inside of us either doesn't feel comfortable or wants to change them.  How about caring for them by enjoying their presence, and loving them?  In the most natural way possible.  That way our reputation might get a little better in their eyes.  And eventually they might actually listen to us on a mass scale.  Instead of us having to try and scrape for listeners and hearers, they might actually come to us.  If only we would love unconditionally, and without judgment whatsoever.

Until then, U2 will keep showing the Church the way.  Because they truly have caught something of the heart and character of God.  And don't care what anyone says about it.  Afterall, they have enough followers to prove their naysayers wrong.

Bono, thank you for showing the Church the way.  One day, the majority of the Church will take your lead, and actually love people unconditionally and without judgment.  I can't wait for it.

Spiritual Blog of 2013!

Spiritual Blog of 2013!

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