Yesterday after a lunch meeting with a friend downtown I was approached by a young artist. He asked me to listen to his music through his headphones and see if I like it. Since the headphones looked less than clean this was not much of an option. Instead I asked him to break out one of his favorites there on the corner. The young hip-hop artist obliged and got loose with his rhymes.
As he got going three things were clear: 1) He was good, 2) He was smart, 3) He was angry. And I don’t mean angry in the “gangsta” sense but in the anarchy sense. My man wanted to “occupy” something (or someone).
After talking about the song a bit I asked him what the answer is to his anger. He surprised me.
“Kill ‘em.” he said.
“Kill who?” I replied.
“Them. The rich, oppressive people that are beating my friends and people like me.” (this is severely edited for the children). He clarified.
I then asked him if he considered that his solution to the problem was more of the same problem. I told him I could not get down with a more powerful and aggressive version of the same ideology that was already labeled bad.
Then he spoke with prophetic clarity: “Sometimes peace can only come through bloodshed man.”
I told him I understood and agreed. I explained to him how I am a Christian and was involved in the greatest revolt in history. In my spiritual anarchy I attempted to overthrow and dethrone God by belittling his glory and name. He was actually familiar with the gospel narrative, though he admitted he did not believe it. We spent some time discussing some of his objections and issues. God may even use this in his life. I pray he does.
The interesting aspect of all of this was how he was hitting the gospel notes in his own narrative. The characters, cause, and means were all flipped around of course; but at the end of the day, he had realized that he needed peace and it came through bloodshed. The truth of the matter is that he is exactly right. Peace, true and lasting peace that upholds justice and magnifies love, will only come through the shed blood of Christ. The truth of the gospel answers the hurt and the hunger of this young artist. The gospel completes his life narrative.
I share this story to highlight how pervasive the human need is and how singular the gospel answer is. Who would have thought this guy would have, with very little prompting, struck such a powerful gospel theme? The truth is the businessmen and construction workers that walked by us as we talked would have hit simliar notes. The singular human need for restoration through redemption is articulated in varied ways in every life. It is the big issue facing humanity. As Christians we need to have ears to hear and compassion to speak. Too often I don’t. However, this day I’m glad I did.