If the Apostle Paul Had a Band - Part 4
In the ‘70s and ‘80s, punk bands were often hailed as radical or revolutionary, challenging social conventions. Some bands today like to wear “revolutionary” images and take political or social stands in their lyrics, as well. But if Paul had had a band, their commitment to the greatest cause of all would have outplayed any other band in history. If Paul had had a band, they would have radically poured themselves out, sacrificially serving the cause of the Gospel.
As I’m writing this, two of our Steiger and Come&Live! bands are touring under dangerous circumstances, taking personal risks in order to share the Good News in places where many have never yet heard. Nuteki is on the road in Russia, being followed around by government officials, directly ordering them not to preach. Despite the potentially serious consequences, they have continued to share the message of Jesus at every concert.
No Longer Music is currently on tour in Albania, facing opposition from Muslim groups at every show. Our local partners are also putting their necks on the line, yet are fully committed and excited about the Gospel being preached. One pastor there fasted and prayed for 30 days before the show, waiting expectantly for what God would do, despite threats from Muslims protesting in front of their church building the week prior.
We need more bands and artists willing to sacrifice and take risks for a generation that desperately needs to hear the Gospel. Our culture today teaches bands to focus on themselves, their career, their gain and reputation. But we’ve got to recognise how much we have already received in Jesus, and respond by sacrificially pouring ourselves out for others and for the Gospel. This sacrificial, risk-taking lifestyle is what Paul talks about in Philippians, chapter 2.
Paul starts this chapter reminding the Philippians how blessed they are, having received love, assurance, fellowship, and mercy in Jesus (v1). Based on this, he challenges them to look outward, by being in unity (v2), serving with humility (v3) and concern for others (v4). He then gives four life examples of this: Jesus (v5-11), himself (v16-17), and two of his “band members,” Timothy (v19-23) and Epaphroditus (v25-30).
Jesus was Paul’s supreme example: not holding onto His divinity, He came as a man, humbled Himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross (v8).
Inspired by Jesus, Paul declares, “I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith” (v17). Paul worked hard. Through blood, sweat, and tears, he served those God called him to. There wasn’t much room for glamour in Paul’s band.
Talking about one of his key band members, Timothy, Paul says he has no one as likeminded, who will sincerely care for the state of others. “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus” (v20-21). Epaphroditus, another band member, “came close to death, not regarding his life” for the work of Jesus (v30).
Throughout this chapter, Paul also points to the amazing results this sacrificial and bold love brings. Jesus’ sacrifice brought victory (v9-11), for this is ultimately the only story with a happy ending. After submitting unto death, Jesus is exalted, God is glorified, and we will also be exalted with Him.
This sacrificial life also brings joy. Three times in this chapter, Paul says he rejoices, seeing the spiritual growth of others (v16-18).
Another huge result is the clear and powerful witness of a life sacrificed for others. As Paul says, they will “shine as lights in the world” (v15).
If Paul had had a band, it would have been the most radical and revolutionary band ever, because of their bold love and sacrificial servitude toward others. Since God gives us a platform through art and music, Paul’s band would have set the example of living fully aware of the impact each of us has on those around us. They, therefore, would not have lived selfishly, as society would teach us, but would rather have poured their lives out in bold love for others.
This greater love is not easy - it takes hard work and sacrifice. That’s why I call it bold love. It’s not passive, but demonstrates a strong, active, and purposeful attitude of obedience. But it is all worthwhile, for we know that this story ends well. As we love in this way, pouring our lives out, Paul says we will be lights in the world. It will bring us joy, and it will end in victory.
Don’t be another band that’s just wearing the image of a revolution! Be a band like Paul’s would have been: radically living a life poured out for the Gospel, in bold love for others. And as we do, may we know the joy that Paul knew, in seeing eternal fruit from his labour.