For many years I have been a fan of Ian Anderson and his band, Jethro Tull. The mix of heavy guitars and raucous flute playing has fascinated me. Songs like Locomotive Breath are big hits. A deeper look at some of the things that the group has recorded makes me really think about religion, and what mankind has done to pervert it.
I have grown up in a Christian household. I have also walked away from being active in my faith several times. I did not see the connection to the feelings of guilt that so many churches apply to their members. Other churches today are picking and choosing what to follow from the Bible. One church I was attending had a pastor state publicly that there was no hell. Good people will all go to heaven, and you do not have to follow the Bible if you feel that those parts don't apply to you. Seriously? That person in essence called Jesus a liar. Jesus spoke about hell multiple times. He also said that "no man comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6).
One of the songs that Anderson recorded in the 1970s continues to run through my head the last couple of days. Titled "Wind Up" he speaks about questioning the church. Some people say that Anderson's lyrics are anti-God and anti-Christian. In reality, I think he is trying to be a reformist. He is no Martin Luther, but he is pointing out his disagreement with the church.
So I left there in the morningWith their God tucked underneath my armTheir half-assed smiles and the book of rulesAnd I asked this God a questionAnd by way of firm replyHe said "I'm not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays"So to my old headmaster and to anyone who caresBefore I'm through I'd like to say my prayersI don't believe youYou had the whole damn thing all wrongHe's not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays
So many people think they are doing the right thing by going to church on Sunday, living the rest of the week however they want, and then the next Sunday going back to church and asking for forgiveness. That is not what being a Christian is supposed to be. God created us to have an ongoing relationship with him. The Apostle Paul tells us to pray without ceasing. (Certainly not to spend every moment on our knees and not doing the things we need to do, but to be in constant conversation with him, about all of our lives).
Although I am not certain of Ian Anderson's actual beliefs about Jesus, he certainly brings up questions about what people are doing in the name of Jesus and the church,
In their song Hymn 43 he sings:
Our father high in heaven, smile down upon your son
Who's busy with his money games, his women and his gun
Oh Jesus save me
Opening lines tell us what men are doing - their greed, their sexual sins, their violence an hatred towards others. These people are living life as they choose and pretending that it is what God wants for them, they then say they are saved. The line "oh Jesus save me" has a double meaning. These people in the song think they are saved because they say the right words. It also is the voice of the singer saying that we need to be saved from this false idea about Christianity.
The ending of the song is not any more favorable:
If Jesus saves, well He'd better save Himself
From the gory glory seekers who use His name in death
Oh Jesus save me
Well, I saw Him in the city and on the mountains of the moon
His cross was rather bloody
He could hardly roll His stone
Oh Jesus save me
"He better save himself" - perhaps Ian is singing that he does not believe in Jesus because of what people are doing. Mor to the point though, I think he is condemning the people who misuse the church and the name of the Messiah.
The final lines point out that Jesus is everywhere, and his cross is so bloody and he must be very tired of the sins we continue to pile up and expect him to forgive. The very bloody cross means that when he shed his blood to forgive us, he must have shed a lot of blood to cover the enormous amount of sin there is. Being hardly able to roll the stone is from his resurrection - not saying he couldn't do it - he did. Rather that the crushing weight of the selfish and evil things mankind does is unimaginable.
Our Lord wants to be there with us, to comfort and guide us. He did not simply want us to show up one day, say that I like Jesus, then go on our way. He wants us to have a relationship and for us to go the way of his teaching, where he will be there for us.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
God is WITH us. He is not sitting in the church waiting for us to come back. He is right there with us every moment. Talk to him. He is not the kind you wind up on Sunday.