Sunday, January 16, 2011

Green Day and the Gospel

Loneliness and isolationism are two of the most common afflictions people suffer from today. When you consider the fact that almost 50% of marriages end in divorce these days and school bullying seems to be causing more and more student suicides each year, it shouldn’t really surprise us. The fact remains that as human beings, God created us for community. He stated in Genesis 2:18 that it was not good for man to be alone. Keep in mind this was before sin had entered the picture, and yet still, God realized that man needed companionship with other creatures like him. So the need for the community was not the result of sin entering the picture.

Perhaps one of the songs that best exemplifies our need for companionship, and a Savior would be Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” which hit the radio airwaves in the fall of 2004 during my senior year of high school. Appearing on their breakout comeback concept album “American Idiot” (an album deemed extremely anti-Christian by many Christian publications due to it’s occasional use of cuss words, mentioning of drugs, and anti-Bush ranting), this song struck a chord with me as a Christian, despite the negative press it was receiving.

The song starts off with a character stated he ‘walks a lonely road the only road that I have ever known’ which then leads him to sing in the chorus:

“My shadow’s the only one that walks beside me,
My shallow heart’s the only thing that’s beating,
Sometimes I wish someone out there would find me,
“Til then I walk alone”

I remember being struck specifically by the line “sometimes I wish someone out there would find me.” Here is a lonely person who seems to have accepted his fate at the beginning of the song to walk a lonely road, but by the chorus is hoping “someone out there” will find him. I immediately thought of how that ‘someone’ in the song could easily be God, and that ultimately the song’s protagonist desired that God would see him and find him.

The Bible is filled with verses that tell us that if we seek God we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteronomy 4:29). Jesus echoed these sentiments in Matthew 7:7 when He said “Keep on asking and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened.” (NIV)

Fellowship with one another as Christians, and with Jesus is essential. If we as the Church were to seek out lonely people more often and welcome them into fellowship with us, isn’t it possible we might help them to feel less lonely? Wouldn’t it also make sense that if they were to meet Jesus in a personal way they might for the first time in their life, experience what it means to be loved unconditionally?

One of the best ways for we as Believers to do this is to go out into our culture and listen to what they are saying in their music, movies and TV programs. Because art often (not always) reflects what is going on in the lives of the people within the culture it exists to entertain, it is important for Christians to spend time within the culture to understand the messages being transmitted in the music, movies and TV shows. However it also requires us as Christians keep a discerning eye when doing this, because there are some parts of art that would tempt us into sin, which will do no good to our ability to witness to a culture if we become just like the people we are trying to reach. We need to be different, and the people inside our culture need to see that. That being said, by knowing what messages are being transmitted by our film, popular music and TV programs, we as Christians can communicate the Gospel by using the messages conveyed within the art.

If you think that I am way off by suggesting this, let me encourage you to read Acts 17: 15-33. In this amazing story within an awesome book about the history of the early church, the Apostle Paul is in Athens, Greece where he is led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel to the Greeks, a nation that is exclusively Gentile, who had no way of knowing anything about the Old Testament like the Jews did. Paul spends some time walking about the city of Athens and observes how many idols they have to false gods. This troubles him deeply and he decides to speak to the citizens of Athens about the Good News. So he begins preaching the Gospel in the middle of city each day until he gets the attention of the philosophers who ask him to speak to the full Council of Philosophers about ‘this new religion.’

Paul then addresses the Philosophers by telling them he realizes they are very religious people and that they even have altar built with the inscription “to an unknown God.” He then informs them that this unknown God is in fact the true God of the universe, and he then tells them all about God sending Jesus who was raised from he dead and will one day judge the world.

By the end of the story many think Paul is crazy, some want to hear more at a later time, and a few become Believers! You see how Paul used the culture to share the Gospel with the people of Athens? He took what he saw of their art and religion and reinforced the parts of it that were good and right, while redirecting their thinking in areas that were wrong.

To conclude this post, let’s go back to that lyric from Green Day. We as modern day believers could use this song to share the Gospel with people, but telling them that there is in fact ‘someone out there’ who has always known them. That ‘someone’ is the Lord of the universe who knows everything about them because He created them. He loves them so much and sent His one and only Son to die in their place for their sin, so that they could have a relationship with Him once again!

Friends, it is time we take back our culture by telling it about the Love of Christ! One of the best methods for us to do this, is to find openings by using the messages our culture is sending out, analyzing them for the Truth of the Gospel and pointing that Truth out to a world that desperately needs it!


  1. So many songs, like this one, are just inches from being Jesus songs. I know I personally identify with this song... even with Jesus it can be easy to feel alone, so it's easy to understand why our godless culture is crying to know someone who is real. I love how you connected this to the unknown God Paul talked about-- the comparison is apt, and the opportunities for connection are there for us just as they were for Paul. Good stuff, my friend.

  2. Thanks Ben! This has been one of my favorite of the 'inches away from Jesus songs' that have been released in that ten years. Another one is another mutual favorite of ours "Grey Street" by Dave Matthews Band.

    Look for me to blog about that one sometime in the next month or two.