The Gramophone Awards were established in 1959. Fortunately, their name was soon changed to the Grammys. Last night’s show was dominated by Adele, who won five Grammys including song, record, and album of the year. David Bowie’s final album also received awards in five categories.
In all, there were 426 nominations in eighty-four categories. I looked over the list and found maybe ten songs I’d heard before. Watching the show, I realized how little of the music industry I experience personally.
Why is my ignorance of contemporary music a good thing?
The answer is not that I’m an advocate for withdrawing from society. To the contrary, I worry about Christians who adopt a Christ-against-culture worldview, pulling back into enclaves of spirituality and resisting the secular world wherever they can. While some aspects of contemporary culture are obviously off-limits for believers (see my warning last Friday not to see Fifty Shades Darker), retreating completely from society keeps our salt in the saltshaker and our light under a basket. This is the opposite of Jesus’ intention for us (Matthew 5:13–16).
I know little about contemporary music, not because such music isn’t important. Rather, it’s because ignorance of one dimension of life is a necessary condition for understanding another.
Recently I found Harold Bell Wright’s classic 1912 novel, Their Yesterdays. The author explores the thirteen “truly great things in life,” including dreams, knowledge, love, and other expected topics. But he also lists ignorance as “truly great.”
Wright explains: “With the passion to know fully aroused; with his mind fretting to grapple with the problem of Life; and his purpose fixed to solve the riddle of time; the man succeeded in acquiring this: that he must dare to know little. . . . the wisest men to whom the world pays highest tribute are the wisest because they have not attempted to know all, but, recognizing the value of Ignorance, have dared to remain ignorant of much. Intellectual giants they are; intellectual babes they are, also.”
Jesus has a Kingdom assignment for each of us. He sent Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). We are each one part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). For that body to be healthy, each part must do its job and no other.
How can you do what only you can do today?
Ask the Holy Spirit to empower and use you (Ephesians 5:18). Surrender your plans and ambitions for this day to your Lord (Romans 12:1–2). Ask the Spirit to manifest the character of Jesus in your life (Romans 8:29). Know that God will then use your uniqueness for his glory and our good.
If you would change the culture, you must first be changed by Christ.
Abraham Lincoln’s 208th birthday was yesterday. Among his many wise aphorisms was this: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
How sharp is your ax today?