I don’t know how many of you are U2 fans. Over the years, I have found myself liking them more and more and more. My interest is the highest it has ever been right now, this very minute. It has grown along as the band matured and as they have begun to stand for something significant and have begun to do things that are significant. The rock industry has typically been characterized as standing for sex, drugs, and alcohol. And with good reason. Many in the industry still stand for that (but there is not better rock sound than AC/DC. It’s OK to admit it. I will still love you.). But there is a large segment (Alter Bridge, 3 Doors Down, and even a little of Bon Jovi) that have realized there is more to it than that and have begun to show that in what they say and do. U2 is certainly at the forefront of that push.
(I previously had the CoExist logo pictured here. It occured to me that I may be breaking some rule by putting it here even though I am not and do not intend to profit from it. If you would like to view one of the many versions of it go to http://www.coexistonline.com/index.php.)
I went to see the recent U23D movie with my pastor and a couple of really good friends. And the music was awesome. Not to mention the cinematography. I was lost in the experience. It was great. But you know what one of the greatest things was in my opinion. It was Bono’s headband. And it was the images and words that were on the screen behind the band as they rocked. “CoExist.” Awesome. It became a very controversial thing in days after the movie, mainly in Christian circles as I understand it. That is because Bono was basically giving equal voice to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and saying why can’t we just get along? Why can’t we find peaceful ways to remedy our differences? Why can’t we respect each other for our differences and learn from our differences instead of trying to tell each other where we are wrong and then try to convert each other? That, my friend, is an awesome message. It is a message the world needs to hear more often. And it is a message that I believe that Christ supports.
Jesus tells humanity in his Sermon on the Mount that the entire law, let me emphasize that again, the ENTIRE LAW, falls under two statements. Those statements are basically, “Love God,” and “Love people.” Period. No judging. No pointing out each others sin. No chastising. We are only to follow his example and just offer love, grace, mercy. I think we need to get to that as people, as Christians. And that is why I love, CoExist. Simple. To the point. Stating the greatest of God’s instruction and stating it to three of the world’s major religions. Incredible.
Also hidden in CoExist is personal responsibility. If we really are to love God and love others first and foremost, then that means taking care of the world in which we live. Too often, Christianity sees this world as an evil, temporary, broken place. And it is all of those things, except for temporary. God created this place and called it good. Sure, evil has corrupted it. But Jesus himself states that God’s Kingdom is already at hand, that it is already here, and that it continues to come. It continues to manifest more of itself right here and now. I’ve been reading a lot of NT Wright, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren over the last year. And I agree with those guys that heaven is not so much a place that God is going to wisk us off too if we jump through all the right hoops and find ourselves in the “in” group someday. I think God is bringing heaven to earth. I think that God will someday make this world right. I think that he will, as NT Wright puts it, bring the world to rights. His beauty and justice and original plan for this place will be finally realized. It will be made whole. If that is true, then how we live and work and tend to his creation is very important. CoExist says that too.
CoExist also says one final thing to me. It reminds me that I have no idea how God is working across this world. There are tons of good things happening amongst the muck and grime, and anywhere there is good happening, I believe God is there working. Whether that be in a person of Islamic faith, of Jewish faith, or of no faith. God is working throughout his creation right now to bring heaven and earth together and bring the world to rights, and my part in that is to love God and love people. In doing this I am joining him in his work. And I have no business excluding people or telling them how and where they are wrong. That is God’s business. He has a plan to take care of the evil in the world. And my part in that plan is to act like Christ, offering mercy and grace and love and acceptance. After all, the only people Christ had scorn and disgust for were the religious fundamentalist zealots who thought they were better than all the lawbreakers. For everyone else, Christ had time and mercy and compassion and love and grace. So that is my task in God’s work in the world. And CoExist says that to me.
I think I have created enough controversy for now. More to come later. All of your comments are very welcome, angry or peaceful.