So, I think singing about these things: Forgiveness, loving your enemies, doubt…I think it creates an environment where all of a sudden, people feel like the duality of who they are when no one else is around—they’re not the only person struggling. With ”Just As I Am,” that’s the same thing. That’s like 2,000 years after Jesus ascended into heaven, we’re still struggling with the same thing, which is “Who’s in and who’s out?” “Who feels welcome and who doesn’t? When you read the New Testament and you read the Acts of the Apostles…they were struggling with the same things. Essentially, Peter was a racist who didn’t think the gentiles should be allowed into the kingdom, and Paul had to confront him on it.

Yeah, 2,000 years later, we’re still struggling with the same things, only now we have the wound of institutionalized racism on our hearts, as Americans…and still trying to make amends for it. Particularly in the South. So, we can’t be afraid to sing about those things and to stand in the middle of those things and pray and believe that God is big enough to create a space. The “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” that quote comes from the Book of Lamentations. So to me, it’s worse forgetting how so much hope actually comes out of so much despair. That’s on us, because in the early Church, I think they were very aware of it.

But, who knows? Maybe they struggled with it the same way? Maybe when Christianity was made legal, then all of a sudden your life wasn’t in danger. Maybe everybody got fat and happy and comfortable back then, too?

CCM: You definitely find that in scripture.
MM: Yeah. Even in the Book of Revelations, the letters that get read at the beginning of it go to all the Churches. They aren’t to the pagan communities. You know what I mean?

It was all these letters of God saying, “Hey guys, I’ve been watching you.” He wasn’t like, “Hey, listen, I’ve been really watching Hellenistic culture,” or “I’ve been looking at the Greeks and their system of philosophy and I just wanna take a second to admit how unbelievably flawed it is that they have not talked about Me yet.” It doesn’t go there. It’s mostly an indictment on the Church.

I think part of the thing that’s difficult for the first time ever in the history of Christianity is it’s almost impossible for the Church to have internal conversations publicly, because every time someone does that it ends up becoming a press release and the whole world is reading it. So, Christians need to realize that if you’re going to talk about your faith, you have to assume that somebody who doesn’t even understand you is going to read it—and that’s a first. We’re probably the first generation of Christians that everything that we say on the internet has the potential to be read by mostly non-believers. It has the potential, and I think if most Christians thought about that, maybe it would change the way they talked about things.

Or, maybe it wouldn’t?

Matt Maher, CCM Magazine - image

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