The world of Christian music has been a-buzz for the last week or so with the possibility that something was happening with the seminal Christian group from the 90’s, DC Talk. The big announcement came yesterday and the reaction from the Christian music lovers was not exactly positive. They felt that there was so much promised and so little delivered. The world of marketing hype is a powerful force and often, ultimately, disappoints.
What was the first “Christian” album that I owned that I really enjoyed listening to? It has to be “Jesus Freak”, the music, the harmonies and particularly the outspoken style really resonated with me in my formative years. It was the first Christian music that I heard that sounded fresh and modern. This is after years of listening to my parent’s music on car journeys, the Christian side of which consisted of Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash. Alongside the music of Michael W. Smith, it was DC Talk that really switched me on to Contemporary Christian Music.
In the 90s they were the biggest Christian band in the world. Three guys TobyMac, K-Max and Tait met at college and formed a band, they hit the top of their game with the release of their album “Jesus Freak”. It was their fourth studio album and it moved away from their previous hip-hop based style to more of a rock / grunge style. The reception was such that it spent time in the Billboard 200 charting as high as number 16 and the album even won the boys a Grammy award. This was the Christian sound of the 90’s. Then suddenly out of the blue nothing happened, and nothing continued to happen!
There was the album “solo” which launched the three band members as individual artists released in 2000, but DC Talk never split up – they were simply on intermission. Over the years talk has surrounded whether these guys would ever get back together, would they record a new EP or album as DC Talk. This has been fuelled by internet rumour and the occasional reunion for one track on one another’s other projects.
On the 3rd of May that all changed. On DC Talk’s social media an image was placed just saying 2017 and the day after they teased a big announcement on the 11th. Videos were released of reactions to the news and we were encouraged to sign up to the newsletter to get the announcement first. Then the 11th came and the announcement was…
A DC Talk cruise…
Yes you can cruise from Miami for 5 days in 2017 with performances from DC Talk, TobyMac and Newsboys amongst others and the cheapest tickets at $699 per head!
No new album, no new tour, nothing more than a short trip for the very limited fans that would be in a position to afford it and a locale to make it viable. At that moment the Christian music fans of the world exploded onto the internet to share their opinion and their joint feeling of being let down.
A few hours later the marketing team released a meme about the reaction with a clip of Will Smith saying “I saw that going differently in my mind.” Then a little later a statement was released by TobyMac thanking the fans for being so passionate and that they were sorry that so many were disappointed.
The marketing team behind this event built up hope of something big, only for the announcement to not live up to the expectations that people had built up themselves.
So often in our marketing driven world we find that we are disappointed. We are sold a dream only to find out that it wasn’t really as great as we expected it would be. Like a kid on Christmas morning who has watched months of adverts of the latest toys who gets the very thing he asked for, only to find out that it’s cheap and plastic and they have to assemble it all themselves!
We are sold this more often than we care to admit. The latest gadget that is going to change the world, the smart-phone that will be so much better than the last because it has 8 processors and a brilliant camera, the next new thing and the nostalgia from the past. As Christians we are just as susceptible to this as everyone else but we aren’t meant to be.
I have wanted a new TV for a while. We currently have a 32” flatscreen HD TV. I have resisted the need for a “smart TV” because I have the internet on multiple devices so we don’t need that technology – but like many men I fear that size does matter! I want a bigger TV, 42” or even 48”, a sharper picture and, oooohh, 4K Ultra HD. I will admit that some of these things have been mentioned, multiple times, to my wife. Oddly enough the kids are in agreement with me that this is a good idea. Ultimately though I have to remember it’s actually not important. I have a TV that has much more capability than anything that was dreamed of 30 years ago when I was a kid. I don’t need Ultra HD because with my poor eyesight I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and the only thing that could be helpful given the state of my eyes is a bigger screen size, but it’s not like I can’t see it and enjoy it at the size it is! Half the time we watch TV my attention is distracted by other things anyway – but the trouble is I have bought the lie!
Some people may not see this as a big problem, but it is because there is a deeper spiritual problem here. I am going to continue to speak personally so I don’t tar everyone with the same brush as me, but if this resonates with you then I think it may be something you need to think about. Here is my confession.
I am dissatisfied! I want more all the time. I want more things and I pursue them. I earn money and save in order to buy the things to satisfy this craving. I start looking for the things that I want to satisfy myself and obsess about what it would be like to own that item, but as I am looking I also begin to push the specifications higher, and ultimately the price goes up too. I have this hunger for the physical so much that it is hard to agree with the apostle Paul when he says in Philippians “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
I don’t live hungry and find that I can be content, I don’t know how to not have the latest and greatest and not be content. Ultimately what I need is to have a different hunger.
I need to cultivate a hunger and a desire for more of something but it’s not stuff. I need a realignment of my priorities that means the physical is less of a distraction. I need to remember that I am created to be a worshipper first and everything else comes second. I need to starve my appetite for stuff and feed my hunger for God. This is a discipline to feed the desire. To spend time in the Bible reading about God’s interaction with humanity. To read about the miracles and grow that desire to see the supernatural working through my life to impact the world to see friends, relatives and neighbours encounter something of God for themselves. To be filled in desire, purpose and yearning with the Holy Spirit – to hunger and thirst for a glimpse, or more, of Jesus.
Does this strike a chord? Has this happened to you, has the desire for the world and all its enchantments captivated you and drawn you away from the One who should be in first place in your life.
Now is the time for realignment. To utilise the tool of discipline and the desire of the Spirit within you to defeat the material desire and to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
So I shouldn’t be too disappointed about DC Talk. I should be thankful that in my teens this group of guys produced something that I found worth listening to. They were being honest before men and God and encouraging me to a deeper life in Christ. And if I had just listened to one of their songs a little closer I would realise that the physical world creates a spiritual haze and I have to stick close to God and fight the material desires Day By Day.