Once I hear or see something I find it incredibly difficult to forget. Given this particular trait it is rather unsurprising to know that certain things that I have seen and/or heard have haunted me.
The song “I Gave You All, from Mumford and Sons’ album Babel, has had the effect on me. For example, I can tell you when and where I first heard that song. I was in Birmingham. More specifically, I was in the faculty lounge reading Chris Thomas’ Toward A Pentecostal Ecclesiology. The album had just been released and I, a loyal fan, purchased my copy and eagerly downloaded the album to my MacBook. As I took notes on Chris Thomas’ text, my mind latched upon this phrase, “If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy; I could have won.”
To say that I found those lyrics inescapable would be an understatement of epic proportions. I’ve sang the song through in my car. I’ve belted it out in the shower. I’ve wept over that phrase as it interrupted deep, theological reflection on the nature and purpose of the church.
The phrase haunts me. My mind has pondered its multitude of meanings. My heart resonates with the truth expressed therein.
Here is what I have come to realize as of late: I’m not the only person who finds this particular statement resonating with them at a deep level. Friends have posted YouTube videos of the song and used their posting of the video as a means to encourage friends to become knowledgeable about a cause that is of particular interest or concern to them. Yesterday, I watched as the song was employed by those who were lobbying for freedom and equality for women.
So what? you ask. I have seen this song embraced by so many. It is embraced because this particular phrase expresses something of deep concern for so many. They desperately want to give their time, energy and resources to something that matters — something that is of significance. Yet, here is something to ponder: I have not seen a video employed or these particular lyrics cited to promote any of the services, ministries and/or causes typically associated with the church. In other words, when people search for something to draw them forth from apathy to living for something greater, something more — the church is not the first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth thing on most peoples’ lists.
I mean let’s face it, there are numerous reasons for this. One is our terminology — “saved” often results in safe, predictable, uninteresting lives and faith. Another is the apathy in our ranks. We make great claims about God, but we do precious little if we actually believe these claims. For example, we say that even a small amount of faith can move mountains, but if you ask people to come out for a prayer meeting, you might get the pastor and his/her family. Heck, a couple of weeks ago I asked people to pray about something for a week. Something big. Something important. Something that everyone agreed was of ultimate importance. A week later, when I asked who had prayed, I sadly discovered that only one gentleman had joined with me in praying.
Here is the thing: If people are going to be motivated to move beyond their apathy, tired conversations about the same old subjects and saints who say they care but can’t even be bothered to pray isn’t what is needed.
These lyrics haunt because they express the sad but true fact that we could win, people could win victorious lives if only they found something worthy of their time and attention. If only they had an enemy bigger than their apathy,
thousands millions would collectively raise up, get off their butts and do something.
May these lyrics challenge us, goading us as Haggai and the prophets of old prodded God’s people to leave behind the old, familiar, safe, and comfortable to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.