Hundreds of people knelt in the audience. The leader said “On the count of three, I want everyone to jump, raise their hands, and shout!” Then, with hands raised high in obedience the ones who knew the songs sang the loudest, and others clapped along. It definitely had too much of a mega-church, over-produced worship sort of feel for my tastes. But then again, worship isn’t supposed to be about me, either. But I had a strange feeling it wasn’t supposed to be about a sweaty, overweight man screaming “I’m gonna beat these drums like I am in bed with my girlfriend:” as the smell of cigarrettes and bodyodor wafted through the humid night air.
See, I wasn’t at a church.
I saw Cowboy Mouth perform on Saturday night, and as I told my brother and cousin when we drove away, I have only seen someone have that kind of control over an audience a few times in my life. Make no mistake, Fred LeBlanc was a worship leader on Saturday night. Kind of a worship leader who is a strange mix of Jack Black, Chris Farley, Space Ghost,(seriously he sounds just like SG when he talks:) and cocaine (as I twittered live from the show).
What I saw on Biltmore Avenue Saturday night was worship. Worship of several little gods who can’t satisfy. Gods like happiness, freedom from rules (which is in reality a new type of bondage), alcohol, and self. At one point, Fred told us to just celebrate that “we can do whatever the hell we want to.”—the great American god of autonomy.
The Bible doesn’t discuss atheism. It discusses idolatry. Others have written far more eloquently on the subject, but I was struck by how true this is. It’s not that we don’t believe in something (or someone) that is able to save us from our sin: it’s that we think that some created thing can save us from our sin (alcohol, music, cigarettes, money) or that we can ignore our sin (eastern philosophy) or that we can do enough to pay for our own sin (religion). All three of those things are idolatry. The last two are self-idolatry.
Fred is a very gifted drummer and vocalist, Cowboy Mouth is a very talented band, and I mean them absolutely no disrespect in this post. I enjoyed the show, even. But what caused me to enjoy the show was outright rejecting some of the things that he said. I can’t do whatever the hell I want to do. Praise the Lord I am not left to that wonderful “freedom,” since at times the things I want to do are self-destructive and wrong. Me left to my own devices is certainly not a blessing for me or anybody who comes in contact with me.
I can enjoy his talent as a drummer and singer without imagining that he will ever have the ability to save me. I can celebrate the beautiful sounds of his music only because I am a slave to a much more beautiful God. I can experience happiness and a taste of freedom from enjoying a cold beer on a humid July evening only because I know and love the Source of true delight who created those things for me to enjoy.
Don’t fall for the lie that says getting drunk and bucking the system while listening to New Orleans rock is the path to freedom. It’s the path deeper into despair. Jesus is far more satisfying, in the long run.