Everything Has a Culture

Gary Bird
II Corinthians 6:14b What communion hath light with darkness?

Imagine you are driving down a busy strip in any city. It’s Friday night around 10:00 p.m. As you drive, you begin to see groups of people congregating in front of different establishments. At the first location you drive by, it seems that everyone is wearing cowboy boots, tight jeans, and rhinestone-studded belts. This particular location has a mechanical bull in the parking lot, alongside dozens of pickup trucks with lift kits. Can you imagine what the music sounds like here?

Now, picture approaching the front door with your pastor wearing your Sunday best. You are holding a large, black King James Bible. You slowly walk in with a crunching sound against the sawdust floor. You flip on a light switch so you can see more clearly. You ask the DJ to turn off the music and request to play your favorite church hymn. You and your pastor grab a mic and begin to sing out as if you are a thousand-person choir!

As we could all imagine, the crowd probably wouldn’t be too excited to have you share your rendition of “Amazing Grace.” It wouldn’t matter how sweet the sound was. Everyone in that bar would agree that you brought an atmosphere into their bar that just doesn’t belong. There is a culture that bar has built around the music they listen to. They certainly don’t want to change what they have going on. They very carefully cultivated the exact type of culture they wanted.

Because of how quickly they gave you the boot, you head to a second location. As you approach this new location, it seems that everyone is dressed in dark clothing. There are a lot of spike chokers, extreme hairstyles, excessive body piercings, and tattoos of skulls across the face seem to be common. Leather is the predominant material of choice and dark nail polish is sported by both women and men. Can you imagine the music here? Can you picture the culture?

Music always has a culture that accompanies it. It’s no accident that when children listen to music that glorifies wrong, it produces illicit behavior. They are far more likely to participate in whatever behavior that particular music promotes. However, we often forget that music can influence adults as well. We feel that because we are adults, we have far more control over our actions and impulses.

In this illustration, we realize very quickly that no bar would ever allow someone from the church to control the music in their establishment. Why? If they allowed someone from a different culture to come in and change the music it would be bad for business and cause massive confusion. It’s “counter-culture” to allow anything like church music to come into their bar.

Sadly, many churches and Christians would freely allow the music of the bar into their ears and hearts! The church, our home, and our life have a culture that is built around the music we allow in. Just like the bars, there is a look, attitude, a spirit, and an overall outlook that is tied to the music we listen to. Music isn’t amoral, or in other words, there is good music and bad music. Not all music is created equal and not all music can be used to worship God.

In this rare instance, we should follow the example of the world. We should hold fast to the music that is particular to God. We must understand that the music in our life sets the tone and culture, and we would be wise to protect that. The next time you go to turn on music, think about the crowd that associates with that particular type of music. Ask yourself if your music is something you think Christ would want to keep company with. Ask yourself if the type of music you listen to promotes the kind of culture Jesus would want to identify with. Music is powerful and we as Christians would do well to remember that and fiercely protect the kind of culture that Christ would find honoring.

Gary Bird

Gary and his family are core members of our church. He assists with multiple minsitries. He and his wife Jessica have four children.

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