I love metal. I listen to it all the time and drum along in my truck as I revel in the glory that is all things heavy. Let me paint a picture: lane lines are passing by at a sluggish rate, tail lights are as far as the eye can see, vehicles move forward for half of a second then suddenly stop. It’s a Thursday and this is traffic. Twenty-five minutes to work and I stare at the back of the same SUV until I slowly make my way off the 202, two more right hand turns, then into the office parking lot. The monotony of it all would leave anyone without motivation to even step out of the vehicle, but I step out energized and ready to face the world. Why? Back up twenty-five minutes….. As I back out of my parking space I reach for a cd, and the obvious choice is Alterbridge’s Blackbird album. The amazing rush of full bodied vocals, some of the most tasteful drumming, and screaming guitar solos that can boost whatever bad mood I was in, all of these make the most incredible musical fusion that takes me away from the mundane. I slam my steering-wheel to match the fills of Scott Phillips and I am ready to ditch work and just get behind some drums. But then the next track starts. The hard hitting riffs are toned down on this song, a little more somber now, but the pulse is the same.
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Myles Kennedy hits incredible vocal notes as the message comes out…”I wanna Rise Today and change this world.” A great message of calling this society to impact the world; a man’s statement to declare his longing to not let the world around him stay the same. Amidst the celebrities who define self-centeredness it does seem nice to see some who have thoughts of global improvement; and it is refreshing to witness. Maybe it’s just the musical genius attached to the lyrics but this song seemed to hit me, “Rise Today and change this world.” I began to think critically, as I often enjoying do, and started wondering what drove this musician to such a thought, what brought Myles Kennedy to think about the state of the world and long for its improvement? Of course I understand the doctrine of total depravity and often think about the fallen state of the world, but an unbeliever, a celebrity, realizes it as well.
Something has gone terribly wrong with humanity. There is no denying it whatsoever. Even those who despise religion, those who don’t believe in sin, even the person who looks at what we call sin and says “that is nothing but a creation on the part of religion to control others,” even that person has to see it. I look at a news story from west Texas where a middle-aged man kicked in the door of an elementary school and put a bullet in the back of the head of 11 4th graders, and at this moment we have to note the fallen state of man. Even the one who would say “that does not exist,” looks at that situation and says “that is wicked!!!!” The staunchest atheist looks at that and has no choice but to say “something has gone wrong here!!!!” The issue then seems to be what to do with this state of humanity. The band mentioned here is calling man to action, to wake up and strive for change, to not let this world simply be what it is. Upon witnessing man in his current state, even the unbeliever knows that there must be something better than what we have now.
I begin to think about man’s attempts to better the world: some attempts good, others made their way into history books as atrocities. I think about the meta-narrative of the world, how has it changed? Are their fewer wars today than 1000 years ago? Is there less hunger than 200 years ago? With all of the myriads of organizations doing great things throughout the world, is disease dropping off the face of the planet? Has the world become united? Do we wake up and think about the growth and movement of the world? Do we contemplate the amazing changes we are seeing? No. There is not great change. Wars are being fought, people are being slaughtered, children still die. So I ask, what change has actually occurred in the world throughout history?
(Disclaimer: I am not downplaying the efforts and successes of great organizations across the globe that accomplish great things to better the lives of impoverished nations and meet the needs of those who desperately need such aid. I am simply noting that though these are great and necessary things to happen, they are not solving a problem, only treating symptom.)
I have seen only one sincere change in the world as I look throughout all of history. A change that made such an impact on the world that history itself is centered around it, and a simple two letters that demonstrate this change: A.D. (or C.E.) The advent of the Christ severed the timeline of history and offered a resounding change in the world which boasts effects still running in our world today. I contemplate the works of Christ, the message that offered the only true hope our world has ever seen. Then I find comfort in his last words:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
If change is going to happen, Christ gave us the methodology here. If the fallen state of man is to be impacted at all, it is not going to happen by the means of man himself. This is not to be a conclusion that robs us of joy, but quite the contrary. The state of the world is seen by even the unbeliever to be in desperate need of change, and yet only those equipped by the Holy Spirit are in fact capable of causing real change. Only us marked by the gospel have the ability to offer true hope, to offer a message of good news. Only those who find their identity in Christ can partner with Him and “Rise Today.” I find a great deal of duty, as well as honor in these thoughts: that though the rest of the world may even be able to see the need for hope, for change, only the redeemed have it. This is not to be some power wielded arrogantly, but instead it is a charge placed to us by Christ himself with His last words. We have our calling, and the harvest is great. I look to my Lord for strength, direction, and encouragement as I leave my vehicle. Oh God, help me rise today.