The year was 1995. I was a senior in high school and finally starting to get through some of those “awkward life stages” but yet still geeky nonetheless (just picture acne accompanied by a mullet). I can remember music being a big part of my life. As an impressional teen in the 90s, genres like grunge, hard rock, and heavy metal surfaced to the top of my list. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Metallica were for non-Christian kids, but for a youth group kid like myself, a close substitute could usually be found. Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) was carving out its own niche but still copying much of what was on mainstream radio. It was during this time that a song debuted that will forever be etched into my memory: Jesus Freak by DC Talk.
I still remember the first time I heard Jesus Freak on the local Christian radio station in my hometown of Duluth, MN. I wasn’t so much drawn to the lyrics of the song but the style and the intensity of the music. It was gripping and it instantly reminded me of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. This no doubt was intentional by the DC Talk boys as they mimicked much of Kurt Cobain’s driving power chord sound. I was spellbound. Of course I had to go out and buy the album! I can remember driving home with friends after swim team practice with that disc cranked all the way to 11.
Looking back, I realize now more than ever the power in the words of that song. And today, the lyrics grip me more than the music itself. The chorus was a declaration and an anthem:
What will people think
When they hear that I'm a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it's true
I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain't no disguising the truth
Fast-forward now to 2017 and a lot of life has happened between my teenage years and becoming a full-grown adult. I’ve grown up, gotten married and had 4 kids of my own. I’m no longer a geeky kid; now I’m just a geeky dad!
Society has changed a lot in that time as well. Much has happened in 20 years. If you’ve lived through it, you see it too….much of the good and the bad. But through it all, it makes me wonder: are Christians still comfortable being known as “Jesus Freaks?”
I hope so.
To me, being a Jesus Freak means being countercultural. It means doing things that are in opposition to the status quo and the way that society always operates. It means being revolutionary but in the way that Jesus was revolutionary. Think about how Jesus did this: He challenged religious hypocrisy. He gave a voice to the voiceless. He ushered in a new Kingdom, but not the one everyone expected Messiah to bring. He laid His life down in full surrender to the Father’s will. He resurrected and gave you and I the opportunity to have eternal life.
As I think about this topic today, I have more questions than answers. This seems fitting as the title of this entry itself is a question and one that is still relevant today. If we are honest, being a freak now for Jesus seems less attractive than it did in 1995. If you are a Christian you tread lightly and make sure you only openly express your opinion when it is safe to do so. Social media is a place where most views are accepted and championed…just not Christian views. In addition, I’ve seen many along the path of faith who have left the journey or became less of a freak in order to fit into culture and be accepted.
I said I have questions. I’m going to leave you with a few of them. My hope is that in your life, there is “no disguising the truth” and that you and I together will unabashedly follow Christ no matter the cost. I believe it’s worth every sacrifice we could make. We still need Jesus Freaks today as much as ever.
What will people think when I love them in a way that is radical?
What will people think when I serve them in a way that is radical?
What will people think when I give of my time, my money and my possessions in a way that doesn’t make sense?
What will people think when I confess Biblical truth in a way that does not align with their worldview?
What will people think when I refuse to compromise a view just because “everyone else is doing it”?
What will people think when I make preaching the Gospel so essential to my life that it becomes something worth being physically abused…even to the point of death?
What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak?
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