Matthew 5:16 (ESV) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Recently I had the unique experience of doing something so far out of my comfort zone that I was not only in another time zone, but in another hemisphere!
I attended a Skillet concert!
To say that Skillet is not exactly on my list of favorite bands should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me very well. In fact, prior to being “conned” into going, I did not even know there was such a band as Skillet. My musical taste is hymns, worship, orchestral or smooth jazz. I never did like Rock and Roll even though in my younger days I had a liking for country western music.
The way I found myself at a Skillet concert is the daughter of one of my best friends, Cat, had two tickets purchased by her boyfriend, and due to some unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to attend. Not wanting to go by herself, she was looking for someone to take her, and since she considers me her second dad, I am the one that was tasked to do the good deed. I remember asking our worship leader at church if there is something I should know about this band or would it be better for me to be kept in the dark! He stumbled about a bit with a response which told me everything I needed to know. I was in for something - I just didn’t know what!
So here I am on Tuesday evening in the pit area with Cat and a couple of hundred Skillet fans waiting for the main event. Looking around I quickly discovered I was probably one of the oldest there, everyone else was in their twenties and thirties. But when the lights went down, and the music started, I was not quite ready for the 110-decibel blast of sound, which when I looked it up is louder than a jet engine! I felt my entire body moving and was sure I would soon lose consciousness. Luckily, I had taken along my Apple air-pods which took the level down to just under the pain level LOL! I was also not prepared for the smoke effects, the lifts for the musicians which moved them up and down, and the strobe lights and multi-media display on the screens behind the band. This was beyond my raising!
Ninety minutes later the show was finally over, and I was able to risk removing my air-pods without doing permanent damage to my hearing. Everyone around me seemed to have had a great time and of course Cat was thrilled with the event. I later found out that it took her a couple of days to recover, but it was clear she and everyone else loved the music.
But as I look back, what struck me the most about the night was just how normal everyone was. Cat and I talked to several young attenders and most of them had a solid Christian testimony. I remember in particular one young woman in her early thirties by the name of Mason who took a real interest in Cat (I really liked the fact she thought I was in my thirties and was shocked when I told her my real age). Other than her Emo makeup and the tattoos on her arm, she sounded and acted completely normal. Cat also met several other young women who recognized her from her TikTok feed (as it turns out, Cat is coming up on two million followers and we found at least eight of them at the concert). To them, Cat was a rock star and were thrilled to meet her in person, and all of her fans were in full Emo makeup and dress.
So, what were the takeaways for me? What did I gain from this experience? Several things.
One, we often judge people by the way they look and form opinions of them long before we know them as a person. Cat was in her full Emo dress and makeup – and looking at her one would think she was a bit off, but under that Emo outfit and makeup is a young woman who loves the Lord and is unafraid to tell everyone she knows, especially her TikTok fans, about her faith. She has an unashamed faith and testimony.
Two, we often categorize people by the music they listen to and gauge their spirituality by the genre of music that appeals to them. Here I found a hard rock band, playing music at 110-decibles, who all love the Lord and are unashamed witnesses of the Gospel. The band leader, John Cooper, is a solid Christian even with his beard, tattoos, smoke blowing hoses, and strobe lights. Hard rock may not be my cup of tea, and to be honest I had no idea of what the lyrics were to the songs they were singing, but it was clear they had a solid Christian message and were connecting to a lot of people I would not relate to at all.
Three, God has given some of us platforms from which to proclaim our faith that do not appeal to the average, clean cut, Christian young person. I found that Cat had influence on a large segment of young people I would not be able to approach to within 100 miles. Not all of us appeal to all people, so the more important question is what are we doing with the influence we have to the group that we most identify with?
Fourth, and most importantly, we all influence those around us. Every interaction we have with someone is going to register as positive, or negative. I often think that I am always in the process of drawing people to Christ or pushing them away. People watch my life, and if they know I am a Christian they are forming their view of God based on the way I live, act, and talk. So as a believer, I need to make sure I have a positive influence so as to draw people to the Lord that I love and serve.
The question we need to ponder, is how are we doing in the influence business? In our sphere of influence are we drawing people to Christ, making God look good, or are we driving them away. Cat has an influence on two million young people that probably would not fit very well into the church tradition from which I came. They would definitely not have been part of the inner circle in Word of Life or AWANA and perhaps they would not even have been allowed to attend the youth group. But Cat has something I do not have, she has influence in a sphere totally foreign to me, TikTok, and in fact, she has 1,999,999 more TikTok followers than I do (I only follow myself LOL!)
So, if someone doesn’t look quite the way we think they should, or listen to the music we think they should, or attend the events we think they should, as long as they are having a positive Christian influence on those around them, are we comfortable with that?
I am – and to be honest I am a lot more comfortable with that than I was before the concert!
…Let your light shine before men….