I Don Write This… God Win!6 min read
There was an outburst of emotion – everyone held a strong opinion. The reason for all this – one of the leading churches had invited a secular musician to sing at one of its events. The artist, Korede Bello, had released the song ‘God Win‘ which had become a hit in its own right. The song resonated well with the God-embracing public and even a number of regular Church goers.
It was the kind of song that could do no wrong. So the Church must have felt itself possibly as a pioneer by taking this move. I don’t hold brief for either the artist or the church. I have chosen to join the discourse because I consider myself to be a Christian and a passionate believer in using the creative arts as a medium of worship and outreach
Despite what some would have us believe, within the spacious confines of Christianity there is room for Christian entertainment. This allows me the opportunity to enjoy movies, love songs, jokes and the likes. The purpose of these is to keep me grounded and socially relevant without diminishing my spirituality with God and my neighbours. But how do I enjoy these?
By making sure they do not go outside the confines of what is true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. This is why I chose not to laugh at jokes with certain innuendos, avoid listening to certain music or refrain from watching some movies. The creators of such art form might have created a masterpiece but they fall within the frontiers I choose not to explore
For the frontiers of these art forms I choose to enjoy, their creators do not have to be Christian. I have learnt early in my Christian walk that if God can use a dumb donkey to speak to His prophet then it’s very possible that non-Christians can still create good creative content. They don’t have to overtly speak “Christianesse” but they must celebrate the good values that God has given humanity the privilege to live out. Such values like love, friendship, generosity, compassion, forgiveness and the like…we can’t get enough of them.
On the other hand, when we choose to use the creative arts for the work of Christian ministry and outreach, the objectives are different. The goal of the creative art is to enhance the work we do. As a result, there must be credibility in both the creator and object (whether a song, a play, a movie).
You cannot aim to present a Christian creative art form for outreach without having experienced the life you are calling others to. Herein lies the distinguishing factor for every creative art form endeavored by a Christian. Before going further, I want to put forward the following questions:
- Is the creative art form for entertainment or for outreach? For entertainment, I may invite non-Christians who share my values to share the stage with me. This is why I don’t have to use my praise worship leader to entertain at my wedding reception. There are others better suited for that who don’t have to be professing Christians but share my taste in music
- What do I do when a creative art form by a non-Christian celebrates the message of Christianity better than any creative art form by a Christian? My Answer – USE IT. But my caution, let a Christian deliver it. I recall a time that my church taught on loving and caring for our brethren. The best song that sent the message home was Lean On Me by Bill Withers.
But the use of secular celebrities is not new. I know in the past Billy Graham would invite some of them to join in telling their conversion experience. But the overarching narrative was that this people had experienced salvation. The use of a celebrity serves twofold purpose.
First, it shows that the Gospel is able to reach everyone no matter their status in life and the achievement of success does not completely satisfy. Second, it is meant to open the celebrity as the new epistle for everyone to read.Herein lies the danger of using a celebrity who has not embraced salvation.
The celebrity lifestyle becomes the measure of how Christians should live and in some extreme circumstances, the basis of seeing the power of the gospel. We must not embrace a celebrity simply because of the possible publicity it might attract.
To do this is to treat them like mercenaries and as scripture has shown God does not want His work done by mercenaries no matter the skill they may possess. Scriptures are replete with examples to serve as guides for us.
Living a celebrity lifestyle is challenging enough before imagining adding the Cross of Christian lifestyle. It’s rather amusing that the first authentic and transatlantic celebrity was actually a preacher from Britain. Yes, his name was George Whitfield.
At times, he preached to 80,000 listeners with nothing but the strength of his voice. It is said that a lot of people would leave their work and drop their farm implements just to be able to listen to him preach. He effectively leveraged the use of the new media of his time to develop the celebrity culture.
Unlike the current tide of attributing celebrity with insincerity, George Whitefield is the model of celebrity without shallowness. A study of his life shows that he believes that the celebrity status is where God has placed him. He held that faithfulness to solid biblical preaching and his popularity meant the gospel would get more exposure than it otherwise would in England and America.
Herein lies the essential of the matter, his use of newspapers, publications and itinerant preaching gave him a platform to reach more people and he used the platform to expand the reach of the gospel. His celebrity lifestyle is not without challenges and temptations – he was denounced, attacked, stoned and almost assassinated. In his personal journal, he states that he is going through the fiery trial of popularity.
I do not see the use of Korede Bello as wrong but if he has been used as a minister to call others to the message of the gospel without having experienced the saving power of the Gospel, then I believe the persons involved do him a great disservice. I do agree that if he were to have been saved then his platform would be another stage for Christ to climb on.
If this is also true, his pastors owe him a responsibility of care to assist in developing an accountability support structure around him. This would help extend the usefulness of his platform for the use of Christ. At the same time, it would assist him in his Christian walk.
One fault that has been levelled against the church is that we are fond of raising up our celebrities and bringing them down. It would be great if we could set up a structure to ensure that that our Christian celebrities stay up as Christian role models.
Not everyone will gain popularity and popularity introduces new vulnerability to the Christian walk. But with the proper spiritual support, creative arts and celebrity lifestyle can work well for the sake of Christ. We only have to commit ourselves to doing it right.