I’d like to go ‘old-school’ for a moment or two as this day of mine comes to a close. Think back to a time not long ago when U2 released the CD they titled, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. It wasn’t that long ago, and yet it seems forever and a day. One of the (in my opinion) better tracks on the CD is a song simply called YHWH. The lyrics are such:

Take these shoes
Click clacking down some dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist no
Take this mouth
So quick to criticize
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I’m waiting for the dawn

Still waiting for the dawn, the sun is coming up
The sun is coming up on the ocean
His love is like a drop in the ocean
His love is like a drop in the ocean

Yahweh, Yahweh
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, tell me now
Why the dark before the dawn?

Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart
Take this heart
Take this heart
And make it break

We were driving home from worship—the culmination of a nice Sabbath I treated myself to. Worship, by the way, was amazing today. I feared for the preacher who had the nerve to say to his congregation, “Don’t be a tumor on the body of Christ,” and, best, “Dead churches do not ask you take responsibility; living churches do.” I nearly fell out the soft padded pew. Next week I am not sitting in the balcony, that’s for sure.

We were driving home after hearing the preacher say such things and we were listening to Yahweh.  My children were horsing around in the backseat and my wife and I were engaged in conversation. I heard the lyric, “His love is like a drop in the ocean” and I paused…I thought about it…it didn’t make sense to me for some reason, but I couldn’t figure out why. I said to the lovely and gracious Bumblebee, “that lyric seems out of place, it doesn’t make sense.”

She nodded as she does when she is trying to indicate that I am over-thinking something. I persisted.

“Seriously. What is he saying there? A drop in the ocean is small compared to the ocean. Is Bono saying that God’s love is really small? Is he saying that God’s love is condescending, that it becomes small to accommodate our inability to comprehend it’s vastness? Or is he saying it is indistinguishable from everything else around it? It’s only one small part of what God in his grace gives us?” She agreed, which I think was her way of saying she wasn’t really interested in ruining a nice song with analysis.

Then it happened. I confess that right now, twelve and a half hours later, I am still in a bit of shock. It happens that my youngest son, Doodle-boy, Pookie, was listening to our conversation and, evidently, the song. He piped up, “it means it’s hard to find.”  Huh? This from my son who is about as interested in school as a chicken is in Tyson. I hadn’t thought of it that way, and I’m still having trouble understanding why my 12 year old did, but I think he might be right.

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

So my thought is this: If God’s love is so vast, so great, so big, so deep, then why is it so hard to find? Is it really so indistinguishable from everything around it? Do we really have to search and search and search for God’s love?

I know that my 12 year old is not the only one asking such questions. Bono is no neophyte in matters of the mystery of God and God’s love. And we, with outstretched hands and longing hearts, too want to know this love of God that others seem to find so easily and readily. Maybe what Bono is saying is that God’s love is hard to find because it is only found in one place and we have to go through a lot of, uh, crap, to find it: it is one treasure hidden in a field, one pearl in a market place, it is one Man among millions, it is one drop in an ocean. It is hidden in plain sight, yet for all we see it is indistinguishable from its surroundings.

I do not know what was going through the mind of my Pookster, but I know what is going on inside my own heart and mind. And the truth is that sometimes God’s love is difficult to find, feel, or see. The preacher this morning said that true church membership is a loving relationship between the members. But maybe it is also the place where God’s love is felt most acutely while we are having our shoes, feet, shirts, cities, hands, and mouths changed, that is, while new children are being born. And in the meantime there is pain.

Or maybe humanity is the ocean, and Jesus is the one drop of God’s love?

Who knows? All I can really say is this: If God’s love is a drop in the ocean, I’d rather know that one drop than all the rest of the waters of earth. For it seems to me that no matter how difficult it may be to find, there, in that one drop, is all the sustenance I will need for a thousand-million years. And it would be worth searching a million years or more to find that one drop.

I’m glad Snakers spoke up this morning. He reminded me to keep on looking, to keep on searching, to keep pursuing the God who relentlessly pursues me.

  • Share/Bookmark
This entry was posted on Monday, September 20th, 2010 at 1:24 am and is filed under Christian Living, Theology, grace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
+/- Collapse/Expand All

43 Comments(+Add)

1   Neil    
September 20th, 2010 at 9:24 am

it is easy to gloss over lyrics. and a lot of times you lose noting by doing so. on the other hand, it’s also obvious that some poets pour deep meaning into their work. i suspect bono is the latter.

here’s a guy who has hims all figured out.

coincidentally, although i rarely drink starbucks coffee (i prefer to get mine form a locally owned shop)… i was enjoying a cup while reading this…

2   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 20th, 2010 at 9:34 am

Neil,

I looked over that link. Evidently, I had U2 all wrong. :-)

I shall now go and ‘utterly destroy them from all my listening devices.’

I hope your coffee was good.

jerry

3   Neil    
September 20th, 2010 at 9:43 am

seriously though i wonder if he meant that the ocean is god’s love and we’re the drops? That’s what this gal thinks.

or, maybe his love for us is just a drop in the ocean of who he is.

hmmm… none of these seem obvious enough.

though i guess if it were, we would not be having this discussion.

4   Neil    
September 20th, 2010 at 9:48 am

it’s sad that that blog is the first on the google list when a search of the lyric is done.

at the risk of derailing the thread it amazes me the things people get worked up over – like that guy saying certain styles of the cross are demonic… geesh!

or the whole bit about starbucks. i wonder if the coffee and sugar he buys are “fair trade certified” – if not he’s as guilty as those he accuses.

to the point of the op – thinking like that is shallow compared to the depth of the knowledge of god.

5   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 10:27 am

So my thought is this: If God’s love is so vast, so great, so big, so deep, then why is it so hard to find?

Mebbe it’s because we stand in the way?

I’m a simple man and like to keep my life in that mode so, as I have mental picture of Christ hanging on that tree, what more is needed as proof of God’s love what else do we need to look for? Has it not already been found?

6   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 20th, 2010 at 10:36 am

Scotty,

I thought about that many times too and I in no way disagree with you.

In the context of the song, and in the context of life, there is pain. Bono is singing about how God makes and remakes us, shreds the old life and brings new life out of himself. And there is pain while the child is born.

Sometimes in the midst of that pain, while we are being born anew day in and day out it is difficult to find that love. Sometimes we cry out, “God where is your love?” We are always little children.

I think all of us question God’s love at times.

jerry

7   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Regarding the link, which I was unable to finish, isn’t the kingdom of God like a mustard seed, according to the Scriptures? Not that our enemy does not produce counterfeit scenarios to the truth, but I don’t remember reading that the demonic kingdom is like a mustard seed.

I was just listening to an older sermon from Mars Hill Bible Church, and Rob reminds his listeners that the opposite of love is fear, and that perfect love casts out fear. That link seemed to be driven by fear.

8   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Regarding the OP, Jerry, I think your son is onto something. And your clarification in #6 is very helpful.

Shalom

9   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Bono engages in a sort of religious/humanitarian philosophical cyclotron that goes all around and elicits many streams of thought but never seems to arrive at the point of divine intervention, namely – Jesus.

10   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
September 20th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Actually, I’ve heard and read interviews with Bono where he talks very openly about Christ and his beliefs. Heck, U2 concerts are almost like a big worship service.

11   neil    
September 20th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

The site i linked is not worth exploring nor discussing.

12   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Bono engages in a sort of religious/humanitarian philosophical cyclotron that goes all around and elicits many streams of thought but never seems to arrive at the point of divine intervention, namely – Jesus.

“If I could put it simply, I would say that I believe there’s a force of love and logic in the world, a force of love and logic behind the universe. And I believe in the poetic genius of a creator who would choose to express such unfathomable power as a child born in straw poverty”; i.e., the story of Christ makes sense to me.” – Bono
_____________

“I am a friend to God, a sworn enemy of the saccharine and a believer in grace over karma.” – Bono

_____________

“You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.” – Bono
_____________

Interviewer: Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God isn’t that a bit farfetched?

Bono: No, It’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucious. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off the hook. Christ says: No. I am not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I am not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying “I am the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no please, just be a prophet. A prophet we can take. Your a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we are going to have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was- the Messiah- or a complete nutcase.

_____________

Yep, that Bono guy. Never says anything about Jesus…

13   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Chris, stop muddying the waters with facts.

14   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 20th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

There are few, very few poets who elicit the sort of responses in me, towards God, that Bono elicits. Wendell Berry does. Annie Dillard does. David Crowder does. And Bono does.

Here is a man who is like the biggest rock star in the universe who could have whatever he wants and write about whatever he wants and yet he chooses to sing about Grace, his fears, love, Jesus, mercy, peace, the Gospel and so on…and the so-called secular world eats it up as if he were their prophet.

Not too many sunday morning prophets can do that.

15   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

In light of #12 I stand corrected. Really.

16   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Rick, you are not alone. From my limited exposure to U2, these quotes are not the forefront of their communications. I didn’t even know Bono was a Christian until a few years ago.

17   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 6:07 pm

I never have questioned his saved status. In light of my views that a practicing gay person can be saved, to suggest that someone like Bono could not would be inconsistent.

18   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I think all of us question God’s love at times.

I can honestly say that’s not been an issue for me, Jerry. Most times I question my worthiness of that love!

19   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 20th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Scotty,

That’s fine. Let me know when you come out of your cave, then we can have a serious conversation. :-)

jerry

20   Neil    
September 20th, 2010 at 7:16 pm

i’ve never seen bono be so clear about his faith. what’s the source chris/ i’d like to read the whole thing.

21   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
September 20th, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Neil,
I believe most, if not all, of those excerpts are from this book. It’s been a while since I read it, but I liked it.

An excerpt from the book is here.

22   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 7:49 pm

i’ve never seen bono be so clear about his faith. what’s the source chris/ i’d like to read the whole thing.

Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas

Also from the book:

Bono: There’s nothing hippie about my picture of Christ. The Gospels paint a picture of a very demanding, sometimes divisive love, but love it is. I accept the Old Testament as more of an action movie: blood, car chases, evacuations, a lot of special effects, seas dividing, mass murder, adultery. The children of God are running amok, wayward. Maybe that’s why they’re so relatable. But the way we would see it, those of us who are trying to figure out our Christian conundrum, is that the God of the Old Testament is like the journey from stern father to friend. When you’re a child, you need clear directions and some strict rules. But with Christ, we have access in a one-to-one relationship, for, as in the Old Testament, it was more one of worship and awe, a vertical relationship. The New Testament, on the other hand, we look across at a Jesus who looks familiar, horizontal. The combination is what makes the Cross.

Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship.

I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Michka Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled… . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

23   Neil    
September 20th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

wow.

24   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 20th, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Why would a believing follower of Jesus Christ wear the coexist symbol?

From someone who was at his concert:

“:About five songs into their set, Bono stopped the show and strapped on a headband with writing on it. I stared up at the JumboTron to see that the handwritten lettering said: COEXIST.

Coexisting sounds like a great idea. I fully support the peaceful philanthropy that Bono has encouraged, and this seemed like another way that he was trying to spread the message.

Except, it started to feel like more than a political message. The “C” in “coexist” was the Islamic crescent moon, the “X” was the Star of David, and the “T” was the cross of Christ. Bono pointed at the symbols on his headband-first to the cross, then to the star, then to the crescent moon-and he began to repeat:

“Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true.”

He repeated the words like a mantra, and some people even began to repeat it with him. I suddenly wanted to crawl out of my skin.”

25   Neil    
September 21st, 2010 at 12:09 am

i like the sentiment in its literal sense – we should all be able to coexist. muslims should not be killing jews, hindus, christians in jihad… jews and christians should should not be killing muslims in the quest of a kingdom… etc.

‘course, lately i have seen versions that add peace signs, and the ying /yang… to the point its unreadable.

the bit about “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true” is contradictory to the beautiful words in 22.

it raises the question; can believing what is not true effect the results of your faith in what is true?

26   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 5:04 am

#25 – No. Even when President Bush said that all religions lead to God is does not necessarily mean he isn’t saved. However when people like Bush and Bono make such statements it should warn us not to treat them as role models, especially as it pertains to spiritual truth. But I will also contend that many who are completely and unequivocably orthodox and are doctrinally discerning, but are self righteous and caustic, should not be treated as spiritual models either.

http://judahslion.blogspot.com/2010/09/subtle-backsliding-t-he-word.html

27   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
September 21st, 2010 at 7:10 am

I have the DVD where Bono does this chant and wears the Coexist headband. First of all, he does not say “all true” – he says, “it’s true”. Secondly, he says the phrase “all sons of Abraham” after the phase. So the totality of phrase is – “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed – it’s true. All sons of Abraham”. And in the literal sense, that is true. All three of these trace their roots back to Abraham.

It’s also during the song “Sunday, Bloody Sunday”, which is about religious violence, so the idea is to get these groups to live without killing each other, not to say they all lead to God.

28   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 7:25 am

I knew there would be more than one interpretation. There always is about everything. It all depends upon the predisposition of the interpreter.

BTW – Ozzie Osbourne’s song “Shot in the Dark” is about taking Holy Communion from a shot glass by candlelight. :cool:

29   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
September 21st, 2010 at 8:35 am

I knew there would be more than one interpretation.

Well, there are matters of interpretation – debating what the meaning of the actual words is, and then there is the matter of what was actually said. What I am saying is that the quote you attributed to Bono wasn’t correct. To me, it’s meaningless to argue over what someone might have said or what they didn’t actually say.

30   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 9:37 am

Matters of “interpretation” sometimes mask outright error. It all depends upon your interpretation of error and how that interpretation applies to your original interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of Biblical truth.

And, of course, your original interpretation is flawed with preconceived interpretations of the person’s standing and motive. In short, it’s a kaleidoscope of clinking, clanking, clattering collection of caliginous junk. :cool:

31   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 9:54 am

Yes, but if you’re going to err in calling someone a heretic, is it not better to give the benefit of the doubt where multiple reasonable interpretations might exist?

Regarding “Coexist” – I know a number of Christians with “Coexist” T-Shirts/bumper stickers whose position is not “all religions are equal”/”all religions point to the same place”, but who see it as a call to peaceable coexistence between people of different faiths. In the case of U2, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, the violence being protested was between Catholics & Protestants (Bloody Sunday) less than 50 miles from where the band members lived (they were 11-12 years old at the time), and their anti-war position has been dominant since the beginning – specifically targeting religiously-motivated war.

Needless to say, ODM-types reject “Coexist” out of hand because some who support the movement do believe that “all roads lead to heaven”, and thus in their reducto ad absurdum world, all who support the movement must believe this, as well. Personally, I do not have any “Coexist” paraphernalia, simply because I do not wish to be mistaken in such a manner. Even so, I support the general thrust of Coexist.

As for Bono/U2’s support of Coexist, I’ve heard them speak of it in a couple of concerts I attended, and – as Phil notes – it has always been in context with anti-violence and not with Unitarianism.

32   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 10:08 am

Exactly. The coexist sign is all a matter of interpretation. I find Jesus’ warning about the world hating us to be in conflict with the “coexist” plan.

There will never be a cessation of religious violence, either physical or verbal, regardless of how many coexist stickers are made and which millionaires profit from them.

33   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
September 21st, 2010 at 10:20 am

I find Jesus’ warning about the world hating us to be in conflict with the “coexist” plan.

I find Jesus’ words to bless those who persecute us and not returning evil for evil to be in sync with what Bono is talking about.

Saying that religious violence will always be with us seems to me a bit like people saying that the poor will always be with us. Certainly there will always be problems and hardships this side of the eschaton, but that doesn’t mean we just sit back and do nothing. If we’re actually able to reduce the amount of violence in some way, than what’s wrong with that?

34   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 10:30 am

” If we’re actually able to reduce the amount of violence in some way, than what’s wrong with that?”

Nothing. There is indeed everything right with that. But violence will not decrease because we say “don’t do it!”. Violence has and will continue to increase. The only real and eternal answer (and after all that is what the world needs) is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Peaceful people will still die and be separated from God eternally.

35   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 21st, 2010 at 10:33 am

I don’t think we have a choice but to coexist unless, of course, we want to start killing all those who happen not to be like us…oh wait, that’s right: that’s already been tried (Geneva, Lisbon, etc.).

36   Neil    
September 21st, 2010 at 10:40 am

at times i am tempted to get some kind of coexist paraphernalia – though i do not do bumper stickers… for the reason that i think not killing each other is a good idea.

37   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 21st, 2010 at 10:54 am

I think we should add a coexist banner to the blog somewhere.

38   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
September 21st, 2010 at 10:55 am

I mean think about it: Even here we have to learn to coexist with PB’s, Ricks, Brendts and Me’s.

We hardly coexist at times. :-)

39   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 11:04 am

Coexist is such a bland and passive phrase. We are supposed to love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us.

Coexist Love each other.

40   Nathanael    http://www.borrowedbreath.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 1:09 pm

The only bumper sticker I have simply reads “LOVE WINS”
I picked it up at Mars Hill Bible Church when I went out to the “Isn’t She Beautiful” conference. It’s prompted some great conversations.

41   Neil    
September 21st, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Coexist is such a bland and passive phrase. We are supposed to love our enemies and do good to those who despitefully use us.

Coexist Love each other.

well, let’s walk before we run… before we actually love one another we should stop killing one another.

42   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 5:15 pm

well, let’s walk before we run… before we actually love one another we should stop killing one another.

Maybe that’s just “tough love”…

43   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 21st, 2010 at 8:23 pm

” before we actually love one another we should stop killing one another.”

Unless it is state sponsered.