What I learned from a music guru and how I survived




“What kind of music do you like?” the drums instructor asked me last week at the Bible college where I worked.

Sweat broke out across my forehead. My stomach lurched. Music gurus always made me feel a bit nervous.

And, trust me. This was a music guru.

I’ve seen both kinds: those that make a statement with their clothes and those who don’t. This one practically blended into the carpet with his faded jeans and soft voice. But, I knew he was there. Maybe, it was the intense vibes he put out. The primal desire to constantly commune with his guitar. The way he moved slowly to the beat in his head.

“Um, any kind of songs,” I finally answered, “Sometimes Christian music.”

“Christian music?” His voice instantly rose above his standard I’m-not-really-here-its-just-my-new-cd whisper. Even his worn t-shirt deepened into a prewash glow, “No such thing as Christian music.”

“Oh, yeah?” I said nonchalantly as I wiped bits and pieces of the word “Christian” off my face.

But, I was scared, really scared. This guy had been teaching drums all afternoon, playing his guitar and singing along. I knew that at any moment all those double time grooves and chord progressions could get tangled up in his brain and blow a circuit. Don’t think for a minute that the series “Walking Dead” just came out of someone’s imagination.

The guru shifted his weight from one foot to another.

“There is no such thing as Christian music,” he grinned just wide enough to show a little humanity, “Christians are people who follow Jesus.”

I tried to make the sign of the cross. But, alas, I was not Catholic. I could barely spell the word Charismatic. So, I left the room as quickly as I could.

But, I thought about the conversation for the rest of the week.

I wondered:

· Was the “Christian” label was just a marketing ploy to get cautious believers to spend money?

· Had it become some sort of “seal of approval” so that church-goers no longer wasted time pondering the theology of lyrics?

· Did the existence of “Christian” music eliminate the need to wonder whether a song had been carved from the sufferings of a seeking soul or just slapped together to fill play list?

I was stumped.

So, I googled “Is Christian Music Christian?” on my computer.

A link to a blog appeared, written by the music artist Gunger. In one of his posts he told how he had been signed by a “Christian” label. It was then he discovered that not all artists who sang “Christian” songs knew what it meant to follow Christ.

Today, Gunger does not use the label “Christian” when it comes to music.

“I…try to open my mind and heart to the potential voice and beauty of God that is all around me and very present even within the unexpected places in our culture,” Gunger wrote in his blog, “my hope for myself and the Church today is that we could learn how to recognize and be formed by the true, the good, the beautiful that is reflective of the presence and voice of God in the world around us, both inside and outside of the church.”

Thanks, Gunger for sharing the truth.

And, thanks, music guru, for setting me straight. I’ll never cram the words Christian and music together again.