A good friend of mine named John Alarid, an ex-con, ex-drug addict turned inner-city preacher, recently asked the Christian metal band Bred 4 War (https://www.bred4war.com) to perform at his church, CityReach, in Springfield, MO (http://springfield.cityreachchurch.org).
Now, remember, in John’s congregation you’ll find a whole slew of people just like him: hardcore sinners, seemingly “hopeless cases,” saved by grace. “Rough around the edges,” or “fresh in from the world,” some people say.
I saw this concert as an awesome way of reminding people you don’t have to listen to Southern Gospel music to follow Christ. You can have your tattoos. You can have your long hair, and your heavy metal. Jesus loves you just the way you are, believe it or not.
Some criticized the show, though, playing the same ole “there’s no way this music is Christian!” song-and-dance I’ve heard since I started defending Christian rock music in the 80s. But guess what? John didn’t arrange the concert in order to please people like that. He went against the grain and followed God’s voice.
In this day and age, you would think people would be a little more open. Many are, but some still try and put God in a box.
“That’s not to my taste.”
“That’s not the way I would do it.”
“That’s too unconventional.”
Well, honestly, if you study the New Testament, nearly everything Jesus did was unconventional.
Who am I to try and figure out the mind of God? Who am I to limit the Creator of the universe based solely on my personal likes and dislikes?
But so many people spend their time trying to fit God into their limited worldview. They try to paint Him into their comfortable little corner of the universe, forgetting God is a fierce and free Spirit! He wasn’t meant to be contained within our tiny definitions or conventions.
For one miserable year I attended Central Bible College before dropping out. To say I “didn’t fit in” is a massive understatement. My music was harder and louder than most. My hair was longer than most. My attitude was bigger than most. I refused to wear slacks and suits to class, and even wore t-shirts which a few “rebuked in the name of Jesus!”
While at CBC, a good friend of mine named Tom Howell would go out on weekends to tell people about Jesus. He did not, however, follow the conventional patterns of evangelism they tried to teach us in school.
No, man, this Pentecostal street preacher wore a Catholic Priest’s outfit when he took the good word to the streets.
“But here’s the problem,” I said to him, laughing. “You’re not Catholic, and you sure ain’t no Priest, bro!”
“See that’s the thing,” he smiled. “I never tell them I’m a Priest. I don’t discuss religion. People see the clerical collar and automatically open their hearts to me. That allows me to tell them about how Jesus changed my life.”
Not the way I would approach it, but hey, if it works, more power to him.
Tom and I both dropped out of CBC after that year. We both stood out like bikers at an insurance seminar.
I spent three decades trying to figure out what God wanted me to do. I’m currently in the finishing stages of a novel for my trademarked title, “Demonkill.”
The name means “death to the freshly side of man’s nature.” Destroying Satan’s influence on our soul.
Believe me, I’ve had to defend the name over the years. One guy said, “The Holy Spirit told me that name is NOT right, and that it glorifies Satan. If you want to put two words together, why not call it ‘Spirit-love’?”
“HA, yeah, that’ll REALLY make people wanna read my book!” I laughed in retort.
He didn’t appreciate my sense of humor, but I didn’t care. Just because someone says “God told me!” doesn’t make it so.
I keep my eyes on the Lord, not on man.
While I can’t go into detail, the book will be wholy unconventional. A smattering of people will think it too radical to be Christian, but Jesus was killed for being radical and told us to expect the same kind of reception.
My son, Trey, is following in the footsteps of my unconventional ways, to be certain. While he has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and is quick with a hug, he also sings and plays drums in his own Christian extreme metal band.
Funnily enough, he practices his vocals while he’s buzzing around the yard on our riding lawn mower. It’s one of the funniest sights ever, and our soft-spoken, Baptist neighbor has learned to laugh about it.
“Oh that’s just Trey. He does that. Great kid, though.”
We march to a different beat. We’re rock’n’roll poets in a world of bankers and that’s just the way we like it.
So, to John, Trey and all the other rebels, I say, “Keep on keepin’ on, brothers and sisters! Don’t listen to the conventional so-called ‘wisdom’ of the masses. If God tells you to do something, then DO it, no matter how crazy it sounds.”
Some call that “unconventional evangelism.” I call it “Being a rebel for Jesus.”