– Matthew R. Crawford –
Pop songs are often a window into the hopes and desires of a culture. It is always interesting to listen to songs that come along that present a utopian vision of the future. This phenomenon is nothing new. Just think back a few decades to John Lennon’s “Imagine,” a song with a haunting tune but a frightening description of the perfect society. As Christians, being aware of such songs, especially songs that get a lot of airtime on the radio, is useful in ministry, because they can serve as an avenue to bringing up the gospel.
As an example of what I’m talking about, consider “If Everyone Cared” by popular rock band Nickleback. The song is about the love shared between a couple and the hope that the entire world might experience such love. The chorus states,
If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
We’d see the day when nobody died
The music video for the song only further highlights this utopian vision, as it replays clips from various peace marches and protests around the world including such prominent figures as Nelson Mandela. The song thus presents the hope that one day through the united efforts of humanity, injustice and war will cease, ushering in a day “when nobody died.”
As Christians, let us not be too quick to condemn these songs. The longing they present is a universal human experience and is right, since we live in a world that is not as it should be. In book 19 of City of God, Augustine argued that peace is the true “highest good.” We were created for it and therefore should not be surprised when longing for this peace surfaces in art, even pop art. However, what Nickleback and others fail to see is that human peace movements are unable to bring about this desired state because of the universality of depravity. All utopian projects ultimately fail because they rely upon an exalted view of human nature.
Thus, these songs provide ready-made opportunities to tap into the longing for a better place and explain why this longing exists (because sin has marred the world) and what the solution is (the work of Christ). The next time that Nickleback comes on the radio when you’re at work, use it as an opportunity to tell others that there will indeed come a day when nobody will die, but that day will not be brought about by mere human political machinery. Moreover, on that day the only ones who will indeed ‘never die’ are those who have placed their faith in Christ. Truly everyone must now “swallow their pride” and submit to Christ, or find themselves bowing under his judgment on that day.