The Best Conversation Ever

Several months ago, I had the best conversation ever. It was with a former coworker, the only other Christian that I was aware of at the factory at that time. We routinely talked about the Bible, applying Christianity to our lives and our families, and basically how tough things were and how amazing they would become.

He is the same age as me, has two of his own kids (both boys), and one older step-son. Almost the same as my family life.

Anyway, one day while we were working, he said to me, “you know which band I feel really guilty about liking?”

In my head I was saying, “Please say Tool. Please say Tool.”

He didn’t say Tool. He said, “A Perfect Circle.”

Which is basically Tool. They have the same lead singer and the songs are very similar in style. But the point was made. Maynard James Keenan is a brilliant songwriter and a very gifted performer. I saw APC play in 2004 and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

But I knew what he was getting at, despite the minor difference. Maynard is decidedly anti-Christian and is very vocal about it. Read the lyrics to APC’s “Judith” if you want more details–a song he wrote about his mother’s religious beliefs. Listening to the song’s words as a Christian is painful, quite honestly.

I admired Tool for years before I became a Christian. I remember when Aenima came out in 1996 and how cool it was, hanging out in my friend’s basement and moving the inside of the album around so I could watch California sink into the ocean over and over again. I was 14. Many of their songs are about pushing your limits and going beyond your humanity. I was reminded of this when “Lateralus” came on my radio earlier today. The lyrics are amazing:

Black then white are… all I see, in my infancy,
red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me.
Let’s me see, there is so much more
and beckons me to look through to these infinite possibilities. (“Lateralus,” Tool. Lateralus. 2001)

I remember listening to this album in April of 2001, shortly after midnight on the day it came out. It was amazing, the lyrics were so powerful throughout the album, even though I was half-drunk and playing video games.

My friend explained his reasoning for liking the band(s) so much. “I don’t like what he says. But I really like how he came to his conclusions. He’s one of the few people that you can tell has put a ton of thought into what he says. I don’t like his conclusion, but I respect the effort he put into getting there.”

This prompted me to say, “Well, what about all of the people at church? They are doing the right thing, does it really matter how they got there?”

“Yes,” he said. “It does. If they haven’t put thought into it, they are not there for the right reasons.”

Wow.

There are two directions this post can go now, and I’m going to take the one I didn’t want to. The one that teaches a lesson.

God wants us to put thought into His word. That’s why we have the Bible. Paul instructs us to test the word in our daily lives. We need to in order to truly be faithful during tough times. If we just accept it and move on, we are not doing our part. At the first sign of trouble, if our faith is not strong, our faith proves to not really be faith. The people at church, the ones that don’t really have anything else better to do on a Sunday morning, but are just there because they’ve always been there, might not have the tools to survive a crisis and remain Christians. It’s sad, but it’s true. Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 13 with his parable of the seeds being sown in different terrain. Seeds are great, but if they don’t have a good place to be planted, they’ll wither away or be eaten before they come to bear fruit.

So, Jeremy, if you are reading this, please know that I’ve put a lot of thought into our conversation. It was a great discussion, and I think I’m finally starting to grasp the point you were making, albeit six months later. Thank you.

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