Search

Christian Youth Culture

For those who haven't grown up in the Christian Evangelical youth culture, the following paragraph may be hard to believe...


When I was in college in the 1990s (hmmmm...dating me a bit), every Thursday night (I think it was) a fairly sizable group of students at my college would drop what they were doing and make their way to an old gym building, where an indie/alt/praise band had set up shop. The vibe was a little clandestine, since the style and form of the music wasn't exactly sanctioned by the college itself. So, there was an air of secrecy and expectancy. Students sneaking their way to the building wouldn't find booze or a rager, but scores of their peers with their hands lifted in worship, eyes closed, face raised toward the ceiling.


I realize that not everyone can relate to this as a college experience.



Anyway, one song I remember learning there was Christian folk artist Nancy Honeytree's "I see the Lord": https://youtu.be/FI8LNihrWcc As you might imagine, it sounded quite a bit different coming from a bunch of teen and early-20s Christian college students singing along to an alt-'90s/Christian contemporary band.


The lyrics are simple, a little spin on Isaiah 6.


I see the Lord, high and lifted up,

Seated on the throne of my life.

I see the Lord, high and lifted up

Seated on the throne of my life.

And He is holy,

He is holy,

He is holy,

Seated on the throne of my life.


I don't know that the song quite depicts on the heart-stopping grandeur of the original:


In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:


Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory.


At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.


'Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.'


I do appreciate Honetree's lyric, though, that serves as a nice counterbalance to the easy-believism that has plagued the church for many decades now: "Seated on the throne of my life." There is no evidence in Scripture or the early church that new converts first make a declaration of faith and then at some future point get around to deciding that Christ is their Lord that they follow. Christ's Lordship over the individual Christian's life is all part and parcel of being a Christ-follower.


Still, going back to the original phrasing in Isaiah 6, this is literally an out-of-this-world description. Impossible to relate to in our current reality.



This is why so many of us in the faith also love, love, love Sci-fi and Fantasy. Fiction often gets us the closest to reality as it actually is. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein famously defended fantasy literature against accusations of escapism. Says Tolkein:


"...I think that fairy story has its own mode of reflecting ‘truth’, different from allegory, or (sustained) satire, or ‘realism’, and in some ways more powerful."


Speaking of seeing reality as it actually is, we again see a turn for the worse in the second half of Isaiah 6 (just like in chapter 2, 4....you see the pattern).


In what has always been one of my favorite Bible passages, Isaiah is so caught up in the other-worldly events around him that he finds himself volunteering to be sent by the Lord to do an important task.


"Here am I. Send me!" he says.


Now there may be a bit of a different in what the Bible says and what the modern Christian thinks should happen next. The image of Christian missions, being sent to lost people who need to be saved, where the missionary is giving his all to win over at least one convert.....uh, that is not what Isaiah is being called to do.


Instead, he is called to speak forth the truth, so that this can happen:


Go, and tell this people:


"Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."


It's easy to neglect or ignore this passage. We want to be triumphant, to have the cause of good roll across the land. And yet the reality is that among a "righteous nation," the majority of people are going to be completely insensitive to the truth and reality as it really is.


Isaiah is not going to be a prosperity gospel preacher, telling people what they want to hear....He needs to set forth an unpopular message, which is guaranteed to keep him out of the popular crowds of his peers in Judah.


At the same time, he is bolstered forever by what he witnessed. Not only is the Lord of the Universe holy, holy, holy, but "the whole earth is full of his glory." It looks pretty dark and evil, and yet He is in control. And Isaiah is about to give a series of Messianic messages in the midst of these extremely dark times. As John the Apostle will later write, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."


That is the true hope of all on the side of faith, truth, and love.








25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All