Supposedly, Bob Briner’s book, Roaring Lambs, launched a movement that stirred Christians to leave their bubble and actually interact with the world. While Briner wrote the book to all professions, it seems that it had the biggest affect on the music industry (which ironically was the one entertainment industry not to have its own chapter). The book does offer a good idea, but it doesn’t go far enough. My first encounter with the Roaring Lambs idea came from seeing U2 on the cover of Campus Life, a youth group magazine. I thought, “Cool, if Bono is a Christian and can be this popular, why can’t all of the bands my youth minister threw at me be this popular?”
Then came my first concert (Mr. Mister) and an article about the lead singer’s faith in the Indianapolis Star. Finally, my Roaring Lambs ecstasy came to a climax when I got into an argument with a fellow youth and a youth minister over why I can’t hear Christian music on regular radio. Their take was that society discriminates against Christians. I wasn’t satisfied with the answer. So I put the idea in the back of my mind, feeling that I was the only one who saw a problem here.
Fast forward to college, a time when people are supposed to encounter new ideas. Finally I didn’t feel alone anymore with my idea. I had friends who introduced me to bands like Vigilantes of Love, Over The Rhine, The Call and most importantly Mark Heard. I finally learned what it meant to roar, and I am still learning.
I have learned that before we can roar, we must first follow the mandates set by God for artists, including honesty and integrity. If the art created is not a true reflection of the artist, we are only doing God and ourselves a disservice, because those two are the real audience of our work. If we write clichés without knowing what they really mean, we are not sharing from honest personal experience. I have found the most moving descriptions of a relationship to be ones that I have never heard before, maybe because I don’t take it for granted, and instead of just swallowing it, I have to chew on it, get a taste of its flavors and understand what it all means. Second, if we change our art just to please the producer or the record president, or just to sell more records, whether at the Family Christian Bookstore or at Best Buy, then we have compromised our character and the art we are creating.
I have a lot of respect for independent artists who don’t compromise their art. Bill Mallonee exemplifies this. He probably makes less money than me, but he truly is a man to be admired for his art. To him, making true music is more important than making money. I also feel Mark Heard is the true musician that God intended.
But remember I said I am still learning how to roar. Well, what I once applied only to my choice of music, I now apply to my relationships. No longer do I make friends with just Christians. I make friends who bring me closer to God, whether they believe in Him or not—and I don’t mean just acquaintances; I mean friends I can open up to, and vice versa. Some may wonder how a non-believer can bring me closer to God. Well, if God can speak through Balaam’s donkey, He can definitely speak through my friends who don’t believe in Jesus.
Jesus tells us to go into the world but not be part of it. So why wouldn’t we immerse ourselves in today’s society as much as possible without compromising our spiritual health? Jesus didn’t build a group of followers by being hip with the culture or getting an audience at the Orpheum. He did it by taking the first step in an intimate relationship and letting people take their step toward Him. That is being a roaring Lamb.” That is being relevant.
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