My 9-5 gig is in Country Radio. My policy was once, "I'd rather be on fire than listen to country music." I had a tendency to be a bit extreme :) But when I turned 30, nearly to the day, I was playing radio roulette and landed on a country station. For the first time in my life thought, "I don't mind this."
There is a song that is currently charting by a young guy named Thomas Rhett called "Beer with Jesus" that has stirred up controversy but fascinated me. I've read some very negative, "You're being flippant" pieces about this song and also heard many online theoretical nonsensical "Yee Haw's" of support for combining two things country-folk CLEARLY both enjoy.
This is how he explains and sings it:
Let's see if you find this to be a familiar story... because to me he is living out a Barna stat.
Rhett was raised in a strict religious home. He went away to college and “When I got to college some of my beliefs kind of changed." He was up late one night studying and the idea of needing to talk to Jesus about real life in a real way occurred to him but it wasn't a process that he could appropriate. The questions in the song are a broad version of the very personal questions he wished he could ask if they had Jesus's ear. “Basically, the song is kind of me and Lance and Rick’s personal questions – obviously they are probably not as personal as we would talk about in a room, but we tried to make very broad questions about what we would ask Jesus and what we thought the general population would ask Jesus if they had 20 minutes just to sit down and talk to Him,”
"If Jesus was here today walking in the flesh like He was back when He was here, I’d probably take him down to the Flying Saucer and order up a New Castle and just pick His brain about life, ask Him if I’m doing alright, ask Him how some of the people in my life that are close to me that have died, how they’re doing in Heaven. So, it’s just a really personal song to me.”
Thomas Rhett via Big Machine Label Group Promo Interview (audio here)
I've met many Thomas Rhett's. Have you? I hope you have, because if you haven't you're likely not very involved with those in the world you're called to serve, share life with and bless. In his own way, he expresses his desire to BE with Jesus. He'll even pay. He'd talk and be willing to listen. He'd ask about the whole turn the other cheek dealio, what happens during the prayer process and the agony of salvation. Because he wants to know. Like many, it sounds like he's grown weary of the current paradigm as it's become unrelatable to the world he's found himself in. Without rebellion, he's saying, "Jesus... if you're real.... please come and find me here" It's his expressed desire to be real, honest and exposed. Jesus DIGS that.
"The Word became flesh and blood,and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes,the one-of-a-kind glory. Generous inside and out. True from start to finish."
One day I'll blog extensively about my journey with alcohol. My views have changed drastically over the years and there is a long story to be told. But this isn't that day. This song isn't about beer. In fact even most Biblical alcohol references aren't all that much about alcohol. With Jesus, so much is about the state of our heart. When Jesus turned water into wine, he filled the cups at a boozy party... because it was showing love to an embarrassed host. He likely stayed and had a goblet as there is no evidence that Jesus was anything resembling a teetotaler. This miracle revealed his glory and there is indication that it caused his close friends and fellow party-attenders to put their faith in Him. Jesus was FAR less concerned with appearances. He could give or take any earthly thing, since they were his creation and, like the wind and the waves, at his disposal and command to communicate his message of love to man.
In bars across North America, there Thomas Rhett's willing and wanting to have a beer with Jesus. Because they ARE having a beer one way or another that night. And they'd be more than thrilled to sit down with someone called to be "Jesus with flesh on" like you or me and talk about deeper spiritual things. If you believe that God can't or doesn't speak to those drinking a little... or a lot... you've likely never been drunk (which is not a state I think is best for the record.... drunkenness is not good). BUT neither are many of the other states that Jesus comes down to meet us in. If you're simply ignorant of it, I will speak from personal experience that during my numerous years as an excessive drinker, NUMEROUS times God either spoke or had one of his people do it... and I KNEW it. And not messages of condemnation either. "I love you son" kind of messages. Even philosophical reasoning that I'd been curious about... spoken to a drunk. I've been that guy on the other side of the equation while doing street ministry too.
Will we GO? Or will we be proud, arrogant and legalistic? Not really much of a choice. I believe Rhett's hypothesis that Jesus would GO (and have us GO) to him if he's calling out from his favorite Nashville pub. Thomas Rhett should also be ready for this to actually happen. Beer... Coffee... Peanut Butter Sandwiches... God has this funny way of responding to simple conversation invites for meeting any place and any time.