Lately, the popular Playing for Peace concept has been gaining momentum, especially with the Ben E. King classic, “Stand By Me” video on You Tube. It is an incredible effort by sound technicians and well done. I have to give them credit. People from all over the world never having met each other and singing the same song. After watching and listening to the Stand by Me Video you will understand the hard work that goes into such a project.
Mark Johnson the creator of Playing for Change (playingforchange.com) has the idealistic concept and as he puts it, “desire to inspire each other and come together as the human race and music is the best way to do this is through music…and the belief that we can do a lot more for this world if we work together than we ever can apart.”
The Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF) is attempting to raise funds for the new Ntonga Music School in Guguletu, South Africa that will help children in extreme poverty. PFCF is also looking to build the Mehlo Arts Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Mehlo Arts Center is a creative writing school or “Talking Songs”” for the youth of Johannesburg. PFCF also is attempting to rebuild and enhance Tibetan refugee centers in Dharamsala, India and Kathmandu, Nepal. All of these things are incredibly important, especially creating a safe place for the persecuted and abused.
Music is powerful. There is no doubt about that. Albert Einstein said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. … I get most joy in life out of music.” But music in its best form has no power to transform the human heart. We see the horrors of inhuman acts done to people and I applaud PFCF for wanting to do something about it.
That is is one problem that stands in the way of PFCF: Human nature. No this is not cynicism talking, it is the undeniable evidence seen in the issues they confront.
The scriptures say of people, “Their feet run to evil and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.” (Isaiah 59:7-9ESV).
I am sure groups like PFCF see religion, politics and such creating war. Who can argue with that. But religion or politics is never the culprit. I think people use this argument to oversimplify the issue but create non entities at which they can throw stones. It is always the responsibility of the individual and a matter of the heart. There are those of us recognize the enemy is not out there, it is within. A enemy so intelligently corrupt, deceitful, so frighteningly warlike unless it experiences a radical supernatural change, there will be no peace. That enemy is within, and music cannot pacify it. There is no peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22; 57:21).
The concept of music changing the world sounds good (and is not a new concept) on the surface but can it change the nature of people? Can Mark Johnson and PCFC promise that? From my experience with people and especially in churches the style of music can create great controversy and even division. Music is so diverse it represents entire sub cultures and people just are everything from stubborn to unpredictable even when it comes to the idea of taste in music.
Let me also state that words still have meaning. You cannot change that. Lyrics from the Christian worldview should reflect the truth about biblical doctrine. Are they singing the truth or do they need to focus on benign agreeable lyrics that gloss over reality-the reality that human beings are NOT inherently good and moral but there is some radically wrong with each individual. The fountain of their hearts is controlled by the sinful nature. they are radically depraved. Because of this they always will fight and have no peace. Marc and others like him unknowingly may be guilty of the error of the false prophets who offer superficial treatments for people’s mortal wound by giving assurances of peace when there is no peace. (Jer 6:14; 8:11). Music by itself cannot bring peace, or he would not have to use it to raise funds for his causes.
On the other hand, Jesus Christ is called, “the Prince of Peace” and unless the Jesus of the scriptures rules the hearts of people they will never manage their anger, and repent of their hostility or hate. I think churches and their preachers should focus more on the idea of peace, domestically and abroad. But especially peace in the heart. Peace is the result and effect of righteous living (Isa. 32:17; 48:18). This would mean constant strife in the home, church and soceity shows that our heart are not right and we need to repent of the sin of anger. The Bible is clear, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:18).
May Christ give you the music of peace in your heart and you see his kingdom and his peace.