But the Lord, being a master at putting our hearts at ease when He is doing something different in His Church, little by little started folks to realizing that He really WAS changing the hearts and lives of these hippie persons, and that this was no small thing to be reckoned with.
Then explodes the JESUS MOVEMENT, with all that publicity, and ABC-TV coming down to film church meetings, and pretty soon it was realized that something pretty big was happening. Of course, a great part of this growing public interest in the new revival was due to this new sound in church music; electric guitars, drums, etc., and pretty soon a goodly portion of the church populace was getting pretty interested in getting one of these Jesus rock groups to play at THEIR church, so they too could be a part of this growing phenomena. Oh, there were occasional repercussions, but after all, many young people were coming to profess Jesus Christ as their Savior, and not a few of these longhaired musicians were becoming pretty fair evangelists in their own right. Of course, there's always those who would have nothing to do with this music, believing it to be Devil-inspired, and doing no good whatsoever for the Christian body. And, on the other hand, there are those who would use any music with a beat to entice young people into a church service. But somewhere in between these two extremes, is where the truth about Jesus rock music really lies.
It's true that this music is different, and at times too loud, and occasionally you can't hear the lyrics. But is this the real issue? IS THE PLAYING OF CERTAIN NOTES IN CERTAIN COMBINATIONS SINFUL, WHILE OTHERS ARE NOT? Are some rhythms sinful, while others are not? Are some lyrics of God, others not? The real answer to these questions lies not in an analysis of musical styles or rhythms, but in a far deeper sphere of analysis, the source of inspiration for the music. Music inspired of God will bring joy, unity, peace, and gladness of heart to the listener, and leave him feeling uplifted, or convicted of his need for Jesus, if that's how the Lord is speaking through the music. The scripture says "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord", and some people use this as an excuse to just play loud and noisy electric music; but note that the word "joyful" precedes the word "noise", indicating joyful, victorious music, as opposed to noise for noise' sake.
I would like to say here that I do feel that some forms of supposedly Christian rock music do more harm than good, and is all but devoid of real spiritual content. But defining this is next to impossible on a musical basis, so I offer as a guideline the fact that GOD IS NOT THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION. If music ministers confusion or unrest in the spirit, as some rock music can do, its spiritual effect is negligible, if not non-existent.
However, not all of this music is intended strictly for the church, and in some evangelistic situations some of the harder rock music can have its place as an evangelistic tool. But the leading of the Holy Spirit is mandatory in using this music and to remain sure that it is being used as a tool of the Lord and not to exalt the flesh. I don't think that a group can play the same concert for Christians all the time that it would play for a 100% strictly evangelistic outreach to an audience of non-Christians. HEREIN IS THE KEY; USING THE PROPER TOOL AT THE PROPER TIME, using sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to select the songs for a concert according to the needs of the people to be met.
The line of differentiation is narrow, but I think that the responsible Christian rock musician will realize that his true goal is to minister to the needs of the people, not to stumble anyone, and to bring the Lord to the people through the music. Any musician called by the Lord. will know that he's not on the stage to fulfill his flesh or ego needs, but is asking himself, "Is Jesus being shadowed by my music, or is my music being lit up by the anointing of the Holy Spirit?" Of course, on the other extreme, just as in any ministry, there are those who claim to be Jesus rock groups who are not called of God and not all groups should be judged by the likes of these. Test the spirits, it says in the Bible, and this applies to Jesus rock music as well as it applies to preaching or any other form of ministry. Obviously, no group can hit the Lord's perfect will for every concert, but I think this musical movement has been growing considerably in maturity for the last four years, and the margin of error is closing quickly.
Two years ago, I think Larry Norman would have been completely misunderstood for the content of his latest album, "ONLY VISITING THIS PLANET", but I think now that much of the Christian body can see the impact this album can have on unsaved young people who are into heavy rock music. I don't think the album is intended to be edifying to the Christian body to any great degree, but I think we can see ITS PLACE IN GOD'S PLAN TO REACH ALL MEN WITH THE GOSPEL IN THE END TIMES, UNQUESTIONABLY.
I think that the time has come to realize the complexity of our modern world, and the necessity to use new forms of communication to reach people, as long as we are not grieving the Holy Spirit by using unscriptural means.
I would like to cover at another time some of the problems which confront a responsible young Christian musician of our times, so that you may gain a deeper insight into what God is doing with this contemporary form of evangelism; but in the meantime, I'd like to encourage all of us to take a good look at what's happening to the Church today, not just in music, but in all ways. God is breaking us out of many of our traditional patterns of thinking, and showing us not really a new way of doing things, but reminding us of what He's always expected of any good army fighting for a cause - to use all of the ability we have in an orderly fashion to win the battle. Time is running out and so much of the world needs to hear that Jesus LOVES them, there is no time to spare. Jesus IS coming. Are YOU ready?