Reflections from Rent

This week I’ve been grooving to a song (yes, I said “grooving”) and have gotten some serious insight into following Jesus from it.  The song would never play on a Christian radio station…really any radio station; they actually drop the F-bomb in the middle of it.  We definitely wouldn’t sing it in church.  It has a ton of vulgar innuendos and some down right raunchy lines…but I can’t stop singing it and my times in the Word keep bringing it back. 

The song is La Vie Boheme from the musical Rent. 

Warning – If my description above did not forewarn you.  Rent is a musical about a group of seven friend, four of whom are gay, struggling to live as artists in New York.  Four of the characters are “living with, not dying from” (a statement I will discuss in a minute) AIDS.  The morals are horrific.  Especially the musicals stance on drugs.  After living in inner city Baltimore and seeing what addiction does to a person, Rent’s take on it just makes me sad. 

All that to say…again…Warning…not appropriate for kids, teens, or anyone that might possibly be offended by any topic I listed above.

Regardless of its R-rating, I love the musical because it says some beautiful things and paints some amazing pictures.  It’s thoughts on community for example.  No where else have I seen such a wonderful description of what a loving community can look like.  Compassion for another.   Also unconditional love.  None of the characters succeed at loving the others unconditionally (the gay couple comes closest to it); but the concept of it is there.  It is hiding in the background of most of the songs. 

Talking about the most famous song from the musical, Seasons of Love, as an inspiration for Christian living would be way to easy.  Common, “How do you measure a year?…Measure your life in love.”  I’m  not even going to waste my time with application.  If you don’t get it you need to read more Jesus.  (By the way…that song is not dirty or raunchy in any way and has a wonderful message.  I do recommend it…but just that one song.) 

The song I would love to look at it La Vie Boheme.  (Again…very raunchy…listen with extreme caution.)  Here are a few phrases that have challenged me this week…

To days of inspirations, playing hookey, making something out of nothing, the need to express – to communicate, to going against the grain, going insane, going mad.  To loving tension, no pension, to more than one dimension, to starving for attention, hating convention, hating pretension…

Okay…I wish these expressions described the church.  Imagine being part of a church that…

…instead of doing the same old thing, felt its life was defined by days of inspiration.

…instead of needed mass resources to survive, routinely made something out of nothing.

… instead of being statisfied with talking amongst itself, had a need to express, to communicate, and was straved for attention from the world around it.

…instead of being stuck in tradition, hated convention and pretension, and thus felt it was going insane, going mad.

A church stired up like that would really be something to see. 

Here is some more lyrics…

(While describing things they will do to celebrate one character declares about another) And Collins will recount his exploits as an anarchist – including the tale of his sucessful reprograming of the MIT virtual reality equipment to self-destruct as it broadcasts, ‘Actual Reality!  Act Up!  Fight AIDS!’

Now don’t jump the gun.  I’m not advocating anarchy or valdalism.  But if we truely see the world as busted, if we believe that what is needed is compassion for one another, if we think connection with each other is a beautiful thing in which we find Christ (where two or more are gathered), then shouldn’t we be yelling – Actual Reality!  Act Up! (a.k.a. – over turn the status quo – which is broken and missing Jesus right?) And honestly, I think Jesus would be yelling, “Fight AIDS!”  He was the Great Healer?

To revolution, justice, screaming for solutions, forcing changes, risk, and danger, making noise, making pleas…

Wow.  Seriously.  I want to go for a church that screams those statements.  Let’s remember that “justice!” is our word.  How is it that we, the citizens of the Kingdom of God, have become so complacient about the status quo of the world that we’ve forgotten that Jesus was a revolutionary who called for change and was killed for it.  Let’s make some noise!  Let’s take some risks!  Let’s live dangerously!

To being an us, for once.  Instead of a them…and then later… Let he among us without sin be the first to condemn.

Okay…no comment needed.

The opposite of war isn’t peace.  It’s creation!

Wow.  That is just down right profound.  See, I think we all to often think of peace as the absence of conflict; but that isn’t peace.  Peace is what happens in creation.  It is everything in haromy.  It is right relationship of all things – wholeness – shalom.  This is what I believe the song is trying to get at.  The opposite of war and distruction isn’t non-conflict; it is the beauty of creation.  When we meet God in the Scripture he is in the process of creating something out of nothing.  It has often been said that when we create we are like Him. 

Finally, my favorite line that I have been struggling with a lot this week. 

To people living with, living with, living with, not dying from disease!

Should that not be our cry as believers?  Sin is a disease that we are infected with.  It has tainted what we were created to be (in communion wiht God and one another).  It is killing us; unless you have reestablished your relationship with the source of life – Jesus.  Then you aren’t dying from it…you are living with it…until a day comes when He comes and everything is made new, and it is gone.

That’s beautiful stuff.  Living with it, living with it, living with it…not dying from disease.

A Side Note:

Once, when I was 17, my dad took me to a horrible, rated R movie.  There was a sex scene in it.  There was lots of cussing.  There was a ton of junk a 17 year old should not see.  I was disgusted by it.  When we came home I gave him an earful in the garage about how he had no bussiness taking me to that movie.  He looked at me with disapointment (the only time in my life I remember that happening) and said, “How could you have missed Jesus in that story?” 

If I offended you by writing about a raunchy musical, I appoligize.  But after that moment with my Dad I promised myself to look for Christ everywhere because He is the truth.  I’m always amazed at where he turns up.

Reflections from Rent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s