I grew up listening to Rock-n-Roll. It is in my blood. It was a very short lived phenomenon, taking flight in 1956 and crashing in 1959, but those 4 years revolutionized music as we know it today. Of all the bands that debuted during those years, a select few stand out above the rest.
This past weekend, legendary singer and guitarist Chuck Berry passed away at the age of 90. He was one of those who stood out and whose music has stood the test of time.
Chuck was a pioneer of early Rock-n-Roll. In fact, John Lennon once stated that if one were to look up the term in a dictionary, he or she would simply see a picture of Chuck Berry.
I know that Chuck was not the best role model; he was arrested multiple times, had multiple stays in jail, and settled a number of issues out of court. Shortly before he became famous, he robbed several stores and stole a car at gunpoint. Becoming a celebrity in no way deterred him from bad behavior. His life was full of turbulence and it is very clear that he had problems with drugs, pornography, and underage women.
But I am not writing today to talk about all of his problems, instead this post is about something I heard him say in an interview about 15 years ago. He stated that he tried to write about issues that everyone could relate to, thus he focused on love, school, and cars.
“I wrote about cars because half the people had cars, or wanted them…I wrote about love, because everyone wants that.”-C. Berry
It is very interesting that he chose these topics because of how many people could relate to them. His statement made me wonder how relatable I was as a Christian. Did I focus on issues that were important to everyone? Did my writings only appeal to a small number of believers in a specific denominational leaning? Furthermore, how many Christians are trying to make the Gospel real to a lost and hurting world by sharing it in a relevant way?
When Christians focus on issues that are only important to Christians, they tend to have less of an impact on culture. When Christians focus on issues that are important to members of all parts of society, they tend to greatly impact culture.
Chuck Berry had an enormous impact on our culture because of his music. Very few people probably know much about his personal life and continued struggles, but almost everyone in America has at least heard of Johnny B. Goode.
Most people have also heard of Jesus, but many still do not know much about him or who he claimed to be. Furthermore, many people do not know how his teaching apply today. How is Jesus real to you? How do his words impact the way you live? How does your life speak to others about the cause of Christ?
In what ways have you showed the relevance of Christianity to the world around you? In what ways have you helped others see Christ in areas of importance such as love, transportation, and education? In what ways has your faith led you to do ministry that is important to everyone?
Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Transformation Media Ministries, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for over 10 years. Scott is married and has three children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges in America every day.