There I was, typing away, headphones on, listening to a English songwriter called Paul Bell and his song Same Planet, Different World.
It’s a song about inequality, that contrasts the relative hardships of the single Mom and the man from the City with the six figure sum.
And I felt myself well-up. For a moment the lyrics cut through my consciousness and my emotions rose to the surface. God spoke to me in that moment, through those lyrics. About wealth and poverty, brokenness and injustice. And also about my values, my priorities, my apathy. In other words, the things that matter to Him.
And that’s the power of music. A moment of profundity in a three-and-a-half minute pop song from a Christian singer-songwriter whose heart was stirred by the same Spirit that lives in mine.
Some Christian songwriters write worship songs for the church. Others simply write pop songs that are infused with their faith. I’ve even heard it argued that all music is God-breathed – that the very process of using your God-given creativity to produce a piece of art is an act worship, whether the writer acknowledges the Spirit of God within them or not. I love that thought.
We may not like all types of music, or all forms or art. Some may not stand up to critical appraisal and enjoy commercial success. Some may, by all measures, be better than others. But they are all art. There can be few better ways in which we demonstrate the mark of our Creator in us than to express our creativity in some form or other.
After all, the Bible tells us that we are made in the image of God, who created the heavens and the earth, and saw that it was very good. The Almighty One, whose hands flung stars into space, but who knows every hair on our heads – we are just like Him.
And that’s why His injustices are our injustices.
And he’ll remind us of that when we least expect it, cutting through the white noise of our lives and straight into our hearts through something as simple as the words of a pop song.
Songs are rarely proclaimed as high art. Yet they can are powerful conduits of change, with the ability to connect, to touch and to teach us. Sometimes we just have to listen.