“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Baghdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way. I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.”
Donald Miller – ‘Blue Like Jazz’
Since I was a teenager I have always been drawn to the artistic abilities of Soul and Blues artists. I am not quit sure why but it is almost like there is something tangible behind the music itself. It gives a feel of raw emotion, a connectedness to the realities the artist is expressing. I can’t help but love music which you can tell is being created not just for the purpose of self seeking talents but, something more. Maybe something spiritual! Without the sense of the artists heart felt desire to express an inner burning which is meant to convert your soul, music ceases to be an art and simply exists as a monotone dribble of rhythm and noise.
Funny…When I think of the times the church attempts to engage in worship I find myself asking the most harshest of questions in terms of reality. Do we honestly express heart felt inner burnings with the intent of transforming ours or others souls? Are we willing to let the Spirit shape what our worship gatherings look like or do we simply rely on a monotone dribble of rhythmic tradition and predictable noise?
Picture it… It was dusty and dry as the hot sun beat down on Jesus and his followers while they walked into the town of Caesarea Philippi. At least, that is how I imagine it (Matthew 16:13-20). They all laugh out load with their chapped lips as Jesus cracks jokes about the day’s voyage and the heat. A hush falls upon them as Jesus turns in front and while walking backwards asks them with complete sincerity written on his face, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
His followers looked puzzled. What prompted Jesus to ask such a mysterious and loaded question! They stammered back with what they thought was the public opinion as they had encountered throughout the other villages, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Jesus then paused, looked around at them, and with his coffee auburn colored hair blowing across his face, his deep brown eyes centered on Peter as he asked again, “Who do you say that I am?”
What a profoundly deep and personal question to ask Peter and in some ways I can’t help but feel as though Jesus has not yet stopped asking the question to those who would listen. If we are to truly answer, we too like Peter, need to articulate it from a deeper soulful expression! One which is unreserved and without qualification. One which is filled with awe inspiring, spur of the moment, creativity, and with a subjectively personal manifestation of its internal existence!
When we are willing to allow ourselves to set our imaginations free, embracing an eternal centralization of God’s words within our hearts, and the courage to express them through our own subjective, dynamic, and culturally relevant ways; perhaps then we will truly be worshipping and expressing the music which is in our souls.