I was 17. I see a sign in the hallway of my school. The "Hells Bells: The Dangers of Rock and Roll" video would be showing after school. I was interested. I didn't consider myself a "rocker" or anything but I did like some stuff. Nine Inch Nails, Helmet, Black Flag. This should be interesting.
So I went. I still remember being amazed at what the video shared. The backmasking, the hidden agendas. Wow. I called myself a Christian. I really did. I thought I was one. I went to church. I prayed. I even read my Bible. But the inner dealings of my heart. Those were on reserve. I may have said I "gave my heart to Jesus" but I hadn't. The hurts, pains and frustrations in my life were so bottled up inside and noone, not even God himself was going to touch those areas of my life.
This video shook me. As it should. Unfortunetly, the teachings that followed, were by a student younger than myself who was mis-led. He had just transferred from another school so none of us really knew him. He began handing out sheets of paper. On the paper were lists of popular bands. I was drawn to the rock, punk and hardcore ones. One side listed popular bands such as Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, etc. The top stated, "if you love...then you'll like...." while the other side had a list of similar Christian bands. If you love Green Day...then you'll like MXPX. If you like Nine Inch Nails then you'll like Klank.
Little did I know that this day was the beginning of a long journey that seemed perfect, and so right at first but only led to a dark, dark, place. From this point on I had found something I could cling to. An identity. A Christian punk rocker. I had my first boyfriend, leading to many that only lasted a short while. Most of them were in bands. Others just wanted to be. I was cool. Or so I thought. Every weekend was another concert. My money was thrown away into establishing my identity, band shirts, pins, bumper stickers, jewelry that fit my style. But it didn't end there. Then came the tattoo, the piercings, the shaved head. I was a different person but I didn't care. I was accepted in this group and that is all that mattered.
So one day I'm reading a list about these interesting "Christian" bands. And within a few short years I'm eating after a show in a diner with Squad Five O. I'm sitting in the living room of the house in NYC of the lead singer of Klank watching "The Exorcist." Yep. Real Christian. I was cool though. Or so I thought. I mean, a member of Five Iron Frenzy approached me, yes me, randomly one day in Central Park to tell me he liked my tattoo. Ok, so was I "in" or what?
I'm not saying all Christian bands are evil. Yes, there are alter calls . Prayer tents. I get it. I've worked the prayer tents of some of these events such as Kingdom Bound, Creation, etc. My concern is the mixture. What fellowship does light have with darkness? That is my question. I've spent time with some of these "Christian" bands that you can buy in your local Christian bookstore and I tell you, I see no difference in the scene I was in before I started listening to the "Christian" stuff.
Shortly after that Bible study in my public school in which I was introduced to these bands, my friend and I asked the youth leaders in our church if we could share what we learned.
So there we were. Lists in hand, CD player plugged in, we shared our great find. I made some new friends that day who wanted to jump on the bandwagon. Which is kind of scary thinking back on how I misled those youth.
This is where I look back and ask, where was God?
The answer. Justin Collins.
A random kid. He lived down the road from us, went to a private Christian School in the neighboring town and was invited to a lock-in at our church. I remember seeing him withdrawn from the activities. The local "Christian Punk Rock" bands were done playing in the sanctuary and a playlist was playing over the intercom. A few contemporary songs, then some rock mixed in. You know, to appeal to whole crowd. I went over to see what was wrong and this moment stays with me to this day. He was distressed about the music and didn't understand why it was being played or how it was Christian. I could tell it was bothering him and I didn't understand why. And I certainly didn't tell him that I was the one who put the music together for the night.
I didn't get it. But I do now. One person challenged what everyone accepted as the norm. He saw the mixture, the compromise. He understood that something was "off." It wasn't until 4 or 5 years later, when I truly received the Lord and left the scene completely that I understood. God's spirit filled my heart so completely that I didn't need that music, that scene, that mess anymore so I just gave it up. Got rid of my CDs, shirts, everything. About a year later I heard a teaching called "Strange Fire" from some pastors at the Door Fellowship in Williamsport, PA.
This fire, that was meant to be offered to the most Holy God was mixed with "added incense." The Bible says that this fire was contrary to his command. I would say now, after experiencing the Christian alternative scene, that a majority of it is consumed with "added incense." And to be honest, I want nothing to do with it. I share this post with you to encourage you to be a Justin Collins in your areas of influence. If God has convicted your heart about something that is not pleasing to him. Take that stand. This young man didn't get up and scream and shout that we were all evil, but he didn't partake in what he thought was wrong. I challenge you to do the same, you never know whose life you may change!