Yard Sale Christianity
by Stephen Sanders
As many of you know, summer is prime time yard sale time and you can’t drive anywhere in the south on a Saturday without passing at least a few. This past Saturday, we stopped at one not far from our house.
In the past when I’ve been with my wife to these things, I seldom find anything that I get REALLY excited about. I usually just look for old books because that’s the only thing I can find for a buck that I might actually use. But this past Saturday, as I dug through a box of old CDs, I found something that I couldn’t pass up.
When I look back at my childhood and think about music, two names come to mind: Michael Jackson and the Beastie Boys. The very 1st album that my mom ever bought me was “Thriller.” The first album that I ever bought with my own money was “Licensed to Ill” at a Kmart in Mason, Ohio with my cousin Mark. I can still vividly remember driving home that weekend with my parents in our ‘78 Chrysler New Yorker bumping “Fight For Your Right To Party.” We had the cassette adapter for the 8-track player that was in there. I guess this was probably about 1986-87. This tape stayed in my silver boom box until it broke a couple years later.
During my middle school years, I developed a second wind of musical enlightenment. This was when hip-hop was at its peak in the early 90’s. I’d picked up this interest from my good friend Chad, who bought me an NWA tape in 1992. This was, of course, followed by Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” in 1993...then “Enter the 36 Chambers” by Wu-Tang Clan later that year...
The Beastie Boys released “Check Your Head” in 1993 also. They were still just as relevant then as they had been in the 80’s even though the style had changed a bit. They’d evolved from a party rap trio to a 3-piece jam band in what seemed like no time...but it had been 7 years. I loved this CD.
My love for hip-hop slowly but surely vanished as grunge slowly gained my affection and carried me through my high school years. The Nu Metal genre developed as I entered my college years; a movement that was pretty much over almost as soon as it started. I picked up a bass guitar my freshman year at SECC and my love for hip-hop officially died. But my love for the Beastie’s never did...
In 2002, on a couch at a friend’s house, I discovered “Paul’s Boutique” by the Beastie Boys. This album was released in 1989; many consider this to be their finest work. This album soon became my “favorite album to listen to while I played video games with Eddie.” And even still, the Beastie’s were just as relevant in 2002 as they were in 1986... and 1989... and 1993...
Now, flash-forward to 2011... I look into a box of CDs at a yard sale and find “Check Your Head” and “Paul’s Boutique” in perfect condition... for $5. SOLD! As I walked away, all I could think about were the good times I’d had with my cousin Mark, Chad, Eddie; some of the best times of my life. I couldn’t wait to listen to them when I got home.
I got home, went upstairs, turned on my computer to do my homework and hit play...and immediately realized how much Christ has changed me as an individual. It’s not so much the music itself, because it is still just as creative and impressive as it ever was. It’s the message behind the music that causes a separation. It’s just not the same anymore.
Jesus and Paul talked a lot about this sort of thing in the Bible. You know, the difference between who we were before accepting Christ into our hearts versus the new man who has surrendered his life to Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this played out in my life in such a real way until this episode. There is simply nothing I can gain from this music at this point in my life without turning my back on Christ.
Now let me make a bit of a clarification before I go any further. I’m not talking about legalism here. I’m not saying that, “Christians cannot listen to secular music because it is sinful.” If that had been the case, I never would have bought these CDs to begin with. Now, the Stephen from 5 years ago with his sheltered, legalistic, judgmental Christian mindset would have been outraged at the idea of a believer being excited about a secular CD or movie or anything else that wasn’t “Christian.” I’d been taught that everything was a black or white issue. If it wasn’t “Christian” then it was sin.
But in recent years, with a change of logic and a new church environment, I’ve realized that my old mindset was a very self-serving mindset to have. In reality, not everything in the real world is a black or white issue. Not all “Christian music” is godly and not all “secular music” is sinful. When I used to believe this way, I would make my walk with God a lot easier, while making it more difficult for everyone else I came in contact with.
What I’m talking about is true relationship with Christ where He deals with me personally while I only focus on how God views me, not those around me.
Believe me when I say that I really wanted to enjoy these CDs when I got home. But there was something inside of me that no longer desired or could allow me to digest them. I fully believe that this is what Christ does to our lives. He draws us close to Him by his Spirit and these desires just naturally fall off. They happen in His timing, not our timing and not in the timing that other believers feel they should happen in our lives.
It’s experiences like these that let me know that I am certainly not who I used to be. Fleshly desires that I used to have simply do not exist anymore. I don’t have to beat down my flesh and force myself to exhibit Christian behavior anymore. Christ’s desires just naturally become mine. True freedom in Christ started when I stopped trying to achieve the unachievable: being a perfect Christian.
Intersecting Faith and Life: We all have our individual walks with God that we have to experience. So many of us try so hard to make things automatically sinful for the sake of comfort. We attempt to force our religion on others around us, instead of simply sharing the Gospel. But that's not what we, as Christians, are called to do. We are simply called to love God and love others. Love doesn't cause me to push myself on anyone. It subtracts from me and adds to the world around me.
For Further Study
1 Corinthians 10:13-33
The Characters of Christmas is a podcast created to help you take a fresh look at the Christmas story by getting to know the minor characters that played a part in Jesus’ birth. It is the companion to Dan Darling's book "The Characters of Christmas: The Unlikely People Caught Up in the Story of Jesus."