A note from Allen:
I honestly did not want to reshare this article, but given recent events, I felt compelled to revisit this topic through this encore post. I sincerely apologize if the retelling of this event brings up painful memories, but we must never allow certain things to be pushed aside to protect our comfort. If you want updates on this case, you can follow this link.
I want to stress that our response as Christian artists to the cultural and social struggles of our day must include both the justice and mercy of God. We as believers are in a unique position of understanding the pain of injustice, while simultaneously proclaiming the redemptive power of God to forgive, restore and reconcile sinners, which we all are. As artists, we can reach the hearts of people in a way that words and slogans can not. Therefore, our response may be the most important one of all.
This post, with minimal edits, originally appeared on this blog in October, 2015.
Justice is turned back,
And righteousness stands far away;
For truth has stumbled in the street,
And uprightness cannot enter. (Isaiah 59:14, NKJV)
“All he wanted to do was play.”
These words are echoed by the family and friends of Corey Jones, a South Florida musician who lost his life in an altercation with a plainclothes police officer on October 18th, 2015. There are myriad questions swirling around the investigation. People around the nation are calling for transparency and honest answers in the midst of this tragedy.
That Corey was a musician doesn’t greatly impact the investigation, but it does affect those of us impacted by his death. At the time of the shooting, he was on the way home from a gig and was scheduled to play in church the next morning. Many of us reenact that process every weekend.
No matter where we play or serve, we Christian artists must seek ways to heal broken hearts and solve problems in our society. If we share God’s creative heart, we must also share his heart toward justice and equality.
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8, NASB)
When we create, we reflect the truth of God’s order, character and sovereignty over creation. We reveal the heart of the matter to our audiences. We are in the business of telling the Truth.
Therefore, when we confront the presence of injustice, we must be just as passionate about revealing the truth as we are during our performances. We cannot ask our audiences to give us their attention if we ignore their experiences.
How should the Christian artist respond to injustice? In the same way our God responds – with action, intention and a commitment to repair what is broken in our society.
God looked and saw evil looming on the horizon—
so much evil and no sign of Justice.
He couldn’t believe what he saw:
not a soul around to correct this awful situation.
So he did it himself, took on the work of Salvation,
fueled by his own Righteousness. (Isaiah 59:15-16, MSG)
Perhaps all Corey Jones wanted to do was play. But we musicians and artists, who have been given the gifts of talent and a platform, can do more than that.
We can act.
The God that gave us the gift of creativity expects no less.