Monday, February 13, 2006

Don't Teach Me

I heard a beautiful song recently. The lyrics really caught my attention and I spent some time trying to figure out what the writer meant.

A New Law

by Derek Webb

album: Mockingbird (2005)

don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for

don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music

don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law

i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law

don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice

don’t teach me about loving my enemies

don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law

what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid

The musician is Derek Webb and the song is A New Law. The song got me thinking about the things I was being taught at some of the churches of my past. I have indulged in the sin of blaming others for the false teachings I bought into. As I go on in this life, I am coming to terms with the fact that I willingly believed bad teachings and willingly ignored good teachings...yet another illustration of the continuing sin nature of Christians and the importance of remaining in a solidly biblical church.

To begin my search for Webb's mindset, I found a couple of interviews and reviews at Christianity Today. You gotta love a guy who says he was inspired by The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour. I also appreciate that his songs are about his own mistakes and not just preaching to others.

Interview with Derek Webb

...Webb also studied the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour album for inspiration, resulting in a few sonic surprises that audiophiles will really enjoy. "It's fascinating to see how they placed everything in the mix," Webb says. So, taking a few cues from the Fab Four, the band made Mockingbird what Webb describes as "a fascinating record for headphones."

It's no surprise that Webb was so clear on what he wanted the album to sound like. Those who've met him quickly realize he's someone who knows who he is and what he wants. As a result of that confidence, it's easy to imagine the messages in his songs aren't for him but for us. Nothing could be further from the truth. "There are a lot of revealing moments like in 'A New Law,'" Webb admits, referring to a song about wanting to be told how to think instead of hashing out the issues ourselves. And the title track hits home as well. The mockingbird is known for its ability to mimic, something that can be good or bad, depending on the source. "And yes, it's true that I need this more than you," Webb sings, making it clear we're all in this process together...

Review of Mockingbird

... "A New Law" is particularly stimulating, as Webb notes how readily we cling to the law instead of the freedom found in Christ, preferring to be told what to think rather than think for ourselves—a sad but true perspective on human nature and Christian culture...

I believe that Derek has put to words the picture of Christians as both saints and sinners. We often absorb what we think we want to hear. I know that describes me. In fact, I am guilty of church-hopping until I found a church that preached what I wanted to hear and sang songs that made me FEEL better. I can't legitimately say that the churches I sailed through didn't preach the gospel, because that wouldn't be a true statement. I know that I clung to teachings that were what I wanted to hear, though.

Webb also mentions how Christians find it easier to tackle a list of spiritual dos and don'ts rather than listen to the gospel message. Isn't it funny how we gravitate to the law in search of happiness? A trip to the local evangelical bookstore will show us hundreds of titles on how to make our lives better and faith stronger if we just do _____________.

The Gospel is not only offensive, it also just doesn't make sense to us. God provides the means to create faith in us, provides the means for us to believe that He has provided our salvation and provides means of strengthening our faith. It's all too easy and becomes offensive because we want to do something to save ourselves.

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