Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Open Letter to Showbread

The following is an open-letter that is meant to be somewhat of a "response" to an open-letter written by Showbread to the Flaming Lips. Before going on, you may want to read Showbread's letter here.

Dear Josh and Patrick and Garret and Drew,

Let me introduce myself: my name is Richard, and I am a Christian. I’m a Christian who has been a fan of your music for the past 6 years. I bought my first Showbread album in 2004 and for quite awhile, No Sir Nihilism is Not Practical was in my cd player for days on end. I loved the infusion of raw rock with the thoughtful and uncompromising lyrics. I felt like I discovered “Christian music” for the first time…it was a genre that I only knew from the likes of “family-friendly” radio stations and Showbread changed that perception for me.

In fact, Showbread was a major influence when 2 friends and I played in a short-lived band for about 2 years. I even remember hanging with you guys at a show at Fat Cats in Houston. I was deeply impressed by the heart you all had for ministry. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I read your open letter to the Flaming Lips and I can appreciate your earnest and bold attempt to reach out to a band that seems to have contempt for those who follow Christ.

With that said, I felt compelled to write you all a letter with my thoughts.

If you noticed in my first sentence, I’m not afraid to call myself a Christian. While I admit and agree with you that this label carries heavy baggage in the eyes of the culture, I prefer this title mainly because the Bible isn’t afraid to use it.

Acts 11:26b And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

1 Peter 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

More importantly, to be a Christian is to identify with Christ. If you notice in the verse above, Peter is exhorting those who are “followers of Christ Jesus” (Christians) to not be ashamed of the gospel even in the midst of a culture that hates and persecutes them (verbally or physically). It is precisely because we name the name of Christ that people will hate us. This is nothing new-all throughout the history of our faith, men and women have been persecuted.

Luke 21:17 You will be hated by all for my name's sake.

In fact, Paul warns Timothy that all who desire to follow after Christ will suffer at the hands of unbelievers.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

God does not leave us just with the promise of persecution though. He also promises that He will be with us to give us the strength to endure for His name. He does not just leave His sheep to fend for themselves but promises grace so that although people may mock us and forsake us, God will be faithful to His children.

1 Peter 4:14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

And you see, this is what matters most. We do not seek the applause and acceptance of men. The truth is that because Christ has lived the life we couldn’t live and died the death we deserve, we are accepted by the true and living God and now have fellowship with Christ. Finding the pearl of great price is of eternal value in comparison to being accepted by the culture.

You also say,

Yes, I believe Jesus is God, I believe in a literal, corporeal resurrection of the dead, I believe a personal, loving God created the universe, etc. I sincerely believe in all these things, but I do not hold these beliefs over the heads of those who reject them.”

And then,

“Let me be clear, my letter’s intention is by no means converting any of you to my way of thinking”

Josh, let me ask you this-if you truly believe that Jesus is God and he was raised from the dead, thus making his words true and binding, should you not be shouting His message from the rooftops with the hopes of that sinners will be converted? You say that you do not believe that those who reject the message are idiots (well, maybe fools) or should be treated differently. I certainly agree with this statement but let me point this out-there is something worse waiting for those that reject the message of Christ.

Romans 2:8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Does this concern you in the deepest part of your soul? The fact that a judgment day awaits the Flaming Lips should make the gospel proclamation a priority in your concerns for them. While it is important to clothe the naked and feed the poor, these things are trivial in light of eternity and judgment. We must be willing to confront the world that is lost, dying and without hope. In fact, if we are a “group of rescued lovers who are deeply loved and love others”, we would tell the full truth with the hope that God would grant them repentance and raise those who are dead in sin to life in Christ. Love, after all, does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

So let me finish with this: it’s ok if they hate you; it’s ok if they call you stupid and mock and scorn you. As I stated above, we should expect it since the natural man loves darkness and hates the light. But let it not trouble you because Christ is worth it and He has made it well with our soul. He endured not only shame and contempt at the hands of guilty sinners but bore the full wrath of God so that we might be forgiven of all our sins. We, who were also once alienated and hostile in mind towards God, have now been reconciled and adopted as sons through the shed blood of Christ. We now have peace with God even when men are at war with us.

So do not hate us all (even the “hateful, highly politicized, right wing, republican, flag-waving, gun-toting, war-mongering bigots”). Why hate when you can show and proclaim to the entire world the love of Christ?

In His service,