Faith and relevance in the 21st century

Category: U2 (Page 2 of 3)

It’s sort of about you

A few years ago John Ortberg wrote a book called The Me I Want To Be. At first thought, the title sounds like another one of those ‘you need to believe that you’re number 1’ books that so many Christian authors trot out. But this is not about that at all. This book is about being the person God made you to be, and that is something we have a responsibility to do.

The problem with heretical doctrine is that there is always a grain of truth in it. The fact is that God has made each one of us unique. As Psalm 139 says, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. But then we get the prosperity and success preachers coming out and saying that God wants you to be fabulously beautiful and wealthy because after all, you are you, and you deserve the best. Do you see the (not so) subtle twist on a biblical truth? We need to be very very careful that we don’t cross the line from biblical truth into something that ultimately destroys us. Sometimes that line is very thin.

The biblical truth is that there will not, never has been, and never will be, anyone else like you. You really are unique. Just look at your fingerprints. No one else who has ever lived or who will ever live has or will have the same fingerprints as you. This is just one of the wonderful and fascinating aspects of a God who gives us such inherent dignity that we cannot comprehend it.

God has given each of us gifts, and we have a responsibility to use them. Most of my life I have tried to be someone else because subconsciously (and even consciously at times) I have been frightened to show my true self for fear that people wouldn’t like what they saw. For instance, I used to try to walk and talk like my elder brother, and I still try to sing like my favourite singers and sometimes make my mannerisms like my favourite people. But that is not honouring to the God who gave me unique gifts to use for the bringing in of his kingdom. Don’t try to be someone else; it is not honouring God and it is not doing justice to the gifts God gave you to give to the world.

As a child of the ’80s in terms of much of my musical influence, I have recently been getting back into The Pretenders. One of their most beautiful ballads, Hymn to Her has as its opening line, “Let me inside you, into your room. I hear it’s lined with the things you don’t show.” Many people are so driven by fear that we don’t allow others to see the image of God in us, or we don’t want to show it to others. That’s why it’s so serious, tragic and evil when children are abused in any form. The innocence and wonder of a child is taken away and they hide in their shell, possibly for the rest of their lives, trying to protect themselves from more hurt. That’s why Jesus gave such a serious and solemn warning that whoever treats these little ones like this, it would be better for a millstone to be tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea.

In his inauguration speech in 1994, Nelson Mandela quoted Marianne Williamson in saying that,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

When Jesus said to his followers, “you are the light of the world,” he said it in the sense that we are to live as the people God made us to be, so people could glorify God and see how good God is. The Scriptures are full of affirmations about our inherent worth and dignity. It is right and good to rest in that. It is also right and good though that we don’t stay in that place. That is why Jesus said “let your light shone before others, so that…“. God’s affirmations of us are always ‘so that’. We are saved to serve, created for “good works in Christ.”

In their song, Breathe, U2 sing “We are people born of sound, the songs are in our eyes. Gonna wear them like a crown.” Such words can be easily misunderstood. It’s a thin line between using our gifts for God and using them for our own glorification, for our own egos. Another common refrain throughout the Scriptures is simply ‘do not be afraid.’ Jesus said it often, and in saying it he echoes the many times God says it in the Old Testament. Let’s let our light so shine before others that they are drawn to God and the kingdom, and not our gifts for their own sake.

The line that runs through us all

Not long ago I believed that the root of our problems in life stem partly from the fact that we don’t really believe we’re loved, that if we had a sense of who we are as people loved by the Creator of the universe, it would revolutionise our hearts. And I still believe that. Love does indeed revolutionise our hearts. Martin Luther King was right. Love is the most powerful force in the universe, and only love can drive out the self-loathing in our hearts.

When you know you are loved you want to do good – most of the time. But having said the above, I also see now the reality of human sinfulness. Listening to U2’s The First Time recently, I realised (for the first time!) how much I can relate to it. Years ago, having tasted that the Lord is good, I then went off and did things my own way again. I “left by the back door and threw away the key” as the song goes. I used to struggle with how anyone could know the love of God so deeply and then reject it. But of course it’s possible. How could I be so naive to be so surprised that it happens?

There are deep reasons in the human psyche as to why we make certain decisions in life. There are reasons of hurt and deep abuse in many people that cause them to be unable to trust at depth, even when shown the greatest love. When shown such great love, they believe it is too good to be true. Like St Peter of old when Jesus gave him and his mates a bountiful catch of fish, the great apostle – confronted by the unbelievable generosity of a God who gives without conditions – cannot face the good news that God would choose even him. Doesn’t he know how sinful I am? In Peter’s broken mind it is too good to be true. At that moment he coudn’t believe that He was loved that much, that he was thought of that highly.

But as much as we are victims we are also agents. Having made the courageous decision to follow Jesus and come to know a life and love beyond his wildest comprehension, he then deserts his Master at the hour of his greatest need. Peter is a man I can relate to. He showed the potential for the greatest devotion and yet also showed the greatest act of cowardice. How could this be so in one man? I think Alexander Solzhenitsyn nails it better than anyone I know of:

“the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhlemed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.”

How I can relate to that. Deep in my heart there is the propensity for both the greatest evil and the greatest good. For me, this highlights even more the importance of maintaining a spiritual life of closeness to Jesus, of passion to be Christlike. I have seen the consequences of destructive choices I have made and I don’t want to go there again. Yet at the same time, those same things still tempt me.

I have found that the more I surrender my will to God, the more I become the person I really want to be. If I don’t surrender, I will hover between the good and the evil, and I will find myself tormented by that eternal question, ‘who am I?’ Am I the person who is friendly and genuinely wants to do good, or am I the person who secretly wants to use people and take what I can get regardless of the consequences? The closer I stay to God, the more I am spared the torture of that hellish question. Thankfully, the lyrics of The First Time hold true:

I have a brother
When I’m a brother in need
I spend my whole time running
He spends his running after me

This is the prodigal God. We spend our lives running from Him, and he pursues us, the Hound of Heaven in hot pursuit. And little by little we can surrender and say we’ve had enough. We run up the white flag and submit to the One who gives us life. Little by little, if we are willing, He reveals our defects to us, and little by precious little we hand it over for Him to do with it as He wills. Jesus said “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28). God how I need that. God how I want that today. I pray that tomorrow I will as well.

Plugging into life

In a day when everyone is connected, there is more evidence that we are actually more disconnected than ever. Our greatest human need is for a different kind of connection – connection with the other, but most importantly, connection with the Other. Star-struck lovers gaze into each other’s eyes, longing to be one with each other; in our Western culture, when we engage in conversation, we know when someone is listening when they are looking into our eyes; and when you want someone’s attention, you try to find eye contact. Richard Rohr also talks about a connection with animals. It is not for nothing that we call a dog our best friend. Many elderly people live much healthier lives for having a dog as a companion in their lives. Rohr talks about looking into the eyes of an animal like a dog and sensing a connection with another creature of the universe.

Much of our behaviour, in fact I would probably argue all of it, is a symptom of our desire for connection. Whether our behaviour be good or evil, it is all about our desire to find life, to transcend the purely physical part of our existence. Years ago, John Smith emphasised that the Rolling Stones song Satisfaction was not about sex and trying to ‘get some girly action’ at all, but about a frustration at not finding something deeper. U2 sang about not having found what they were looking for – in their own lives and in the injustice in the world – despite ‘believing in the kingdom come’. Believers in God or not, we long for something more. Our lives are about trying to find a connection with something higher, something greater than ourselves. And the fact is we will never find it fully until that day when all things are renewed and there will be no more striving after futile things. We look through a glass darkly; now we know in part; then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known (1 Cor 13:12).

Our problem with our desire for connection though is that we often do it by trying to find our self in someone else. We get married believing that our spouse is there to fulfill all our emotional needs, and when he or she doesn’t, we get disillusioned and look elsewhere. The next relationship is sure to fail as well until we come to realise that it is not about finding the right person but being the right person. I am so thankful for an older male pointing this out to me back in my 20s. In our desire for love and connection, we go too far and use other people. Jonathan Burnside says ‘the essence of a perverted relationship is getting information about someone else, and then working out what I want to do, so I get what I want’. I am getting better at not doing this but I still do it way too often.

We are inherently selfish people. We live as if it is my way or the highway. We actually believe at times that if everyone would just do things my way the world would be a much better place. But this only leads to more disillusionment. It has been said that you only get disillusioned if you have illusions to begin with. How true is that? What disillusionment then gives birth to is resentment. Someone else has said that ‘expectation is the mother of resentment’. We expect someone else to behave in a certain way, and when they inevitably don’t, we get resentful at them. Who do we think we are? I have found that to be true time and time again in my life. You would think I would have learnt it enough by now that it would have sunk in. But no, when I have my own expectations of what I want to do on a particular weekend at home and my wife tells me her thoughts, that old feeling of resentment kicks in yet again.

The word ‘resent’ actually means to re-experience pain. A friend of mine has said that resentment is the poison I drink to kill someone else. When you think of what is going on when we are feeling resentment towards someone, it’s maddening isn’t it? We are actually choosing to go back and feel the pain of the anger again and again. Often the person we are feeling the resentment towards doesn’t even know about it. Yet we still have the attitude of ‘I’ll show them!’. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

The human desire for connection is a curious thing. We desire more than anything to be close to someone but at the same time we so often choose to lock ourselves away in isolation and separateness from the ones closest to us. Resentment is a classic way of doing this. The old saying that it is the ones we love the most who we hurt the most is as true as anything that has ever been uttered. The irony is that in trying to connect, we actually willingly disconnect, depriving the other person of ourselves. It is then that we are often tempted to misconnect with another in an inappropriate and destructive way. I talked about this in my previous post on affairs.

Our desire to connect is often masked as a desire to find happiness. Our society is built around the individual’s desire or even demand to be happy. Our advertising is specifically designed to create artificial desires in us to make us consume products we believe we actually need. How often do we wonder how we ever got by without mobile phones or without email. But the fact is we did, and quite nicely (don’t get me wrong; I am not knocking mobile phones or email. They are wonderful inventions, but, like anything, if relied upon inappropriately, they will inevitably disappoint). In trying to find happiness in life, we often seek connection in a misconnection. That which we think will solve all our problems actually turns out to make us feel more apart from and more isolated.

I wonder what all this says about what we really believe about life? When we choose a direction that is so clearly not constructive for our relationships, I wonder if the truth has ever made that longest of journeys from our head to our heart. It is possible to believe something intellectually, to ‘know’ it in your head, but not have a deep conviction about it. It is only when a truth is lodged deeply in our heart that we really know it. Deep down we all have a longing for relationship, ultimately a relationship with God. It is the essence of who we are. We are made by a God who is in his very being, relationship. That’s why coming to faith in Christ often feels like a coming home. When I had an experience of this in my late teens, my overriding sense was that this is what I’ve been looking for all my life. Not that I had often even been consciously aware of it. But when I found it, it was like one of those ‘a-ha’ moments when I had a realisation of something I had always known. It was a bit like the scene in Return of the Jedi when Luke Skywalker tells Leia that she is his sister, and she looks into the distance and quietly exclaims “I know. Somehow…I’ve always known.”

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does our soul. We simply cannot survive with our souls unplugged, just hanging out in the nothingness of a seemingly empty universe. Our human desire is to be plugged into life and love. When we love we have a clearer sense of what life is all about. It is then that we find what our souls have been looking for all our lives. It is then that we know joy, in humility and submission. It is about surrendering our ego, our arrogance, and our self-sufficiency. Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Jesus bid those who are weary and heavy-laden to come to him and find rest for their souls. This is where we find life, in resting in him and finding out how to live right. When Martin Luther King asked a colleague on one of their freedom marches if she was tired, this old lady said calmly, “my feets is tired but my soul is rested.” She was plugged into life. She had found her true connection, and she was living the dream. God help me to do the same each day.

Love and need

“I love you ‘cos I need to, not because I need you. I love you ‘cos I understand that God has given me your hand”U2, Luminous Times

I was walking through the café at work the other day and heard this song playing over the airwaves. The next line of the song says “hold on to love”. Love is the only force that triumphs over anything. It often comes across as weakness but it succeeds where others perpetually fail.

Much of what we call love though is really an emotional neediness which comes across as being nice, but is actually designed to protect us from rejection. I know this because I do it all the time. As I realise this more I realise how committed I am to not experiencing the pain of someone not loving me in return. My good deeds are often cloaked in the convincing veneer of niceness. And I am further blinded to this when people feed back to me about how nice I have been to them.

True love comes out of a deep conviction that love does indeed transform an enemy into a friend, as Abraham Lincoln said so long ago. It comes out of a deep conviction that love is the most powerful force in the universe. That’s why the words of this song are so powerful.

The paradox of true love though is that there is a genuine neediness about it. True love loves because of a human need to live this way; it is the way we are wired. At the same time, true love does not need the other in a negative self-protective way to boost its own ego or identity. It is free of all that; it is free to truly love the other no matter the response. If the response is hatred, true love continues to love; if the response is indifference or apathy, true love continues to love; and if the response is love reciprocated, true love still continues to love.

As I write I am reminded of two famous people who both talked and walked this attitude in their lives. I speak of course of Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa. Dr King talked often of the power of redemptive, suffering love, and Mother Teresa has the following words attributed to her, which were apparently written on the wall of her home for children in Kolkata, India. Even if they were not written by her, they fully encapsulate the life she lived:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Hold on to love. Cultivate it, learn it, and most of all, ask God for it, because we simply don’t have in us the capacity to live a life of love without the Spirit of Jesus living in us and guiding us. He will redeem the ugliness of our self-protective neediness into a love that only the Divine can empower us with.

Reflection, information, obsession, and Jesus

“All the books you never read, just started; all the meals you rushed, never tasted” – U2, Falling at Your Feet

I lament our loss of reflection in this information age. We are the most informed generation in history but we are losing the art of reflection. We are constantly wired, and I don’t mean just connected to an iPod or iPhone but emotionally wired. When we are constantly consuming information we are no longer being still and thinking about the deeper issues of life. Everything is rushed. We are overwhelmed with choice and we no longer feel at peace with ourselves. We have everything at our fingertips but don’t know anymore how to be. We think we have to always be doing something; we feel guilty when we aren’t being ‘productive’; and we wonder if we’re being lazy when we’re lying around on a Sunday afternoon.

Linked to this loss of reflection is our culture’s obsession with experience. We have a terrifying fear of missing out. We are the addict who thinks we cannot do without more and better. We talk about things being boring or cool. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in leading a boring life. The life of following Jesus is anything but boring; it is counter-cultural and filled with opportunities. But what this means is that we live a life that is other-centred and not based on how we feel at a certain time. A life of other-centredness is one that doesn’t have to look for the next fix, because it is inherently satisfying. It is borne out of a deep knowing that we are loved by God and therefore don’t need to spend our days and years trying to prove ourselves to others. We are free to love and serve our fellow human beings. This is what it is to be a follower of Jesus. This is life, and deep down we know it is the right way to live.

The way of Jesus gives the most satisfaction, the most depth and the greatest enjoyment of life. This is anything but boring, but it is not a life that seeks to avoid boredom as an end in itself. It is a life that has a higher end; a life that has found something better. For if we do not find what we are really looking for we will inevitably go back to the life we lived before, and, such being human nature, we will pick up where we left off and it will be worse than before. Jesus spoke of this when he told about the house from which a demon has departed but then has other demons more evil than the first one come back and make the house worse than before (Matthew 12:43-45).

Life in the information age promises so much but delivers so little. We are still dependent beings. The fact of human nature is that we simply cannot live without outside help. We are created with a God-shaped hole and as St Augustine and others down through the ages have said, we are forever restless until we find our hope in Christ. No wonder Edward Mote could write the words of that famous hymn back in the 1830s, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand”.

We are indeed in trouble when our information age gives us so much to take in but leaves us with so little time to reflect on it. The Christian message is one which offers a way out of our malaise; a way out of the self-centred slavery to which we are addicted. The way to life is to fall at the feet of the One who is Life itself; Jesus, who says to our tired and information-burdened age, “Come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It is when we reflect on this that we come back to reality and find the life that is truly life, where we share with those people down through the centuries who have had their lives unburdened and their hopes transformed.

Some more words from Falling at Your Feet sum it up eloquently:

all the information
all the radio waves
electronic seas
how to navigate
how to simply be
to know when to wait
this plain simplicity
in whom shall I trust
how might I be still
teach me to surrender
not my will, Thy will

Responses to Terry Jones

Amidst the outcry over the initial decision then reversal by Pastor Terry Jones to burn the Koran, come some mature and gracious responses by Christian leaders who have actually taken the time to talk to him. The first response is by Geoff Tunnicliffe, CEO and secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance, and the second comes from activist Shane Claiborne. I’m not sure I agree with Claiborne that Jones called off the burning out of repentance but the fact is that he called it off and that is of course a good thing (and as one commenter to Claiborne’s piece pointed out, his article is more about us than Jones).

The subsequent burning of Bibles by some Muslim groups in response to Jones’ threat is only to be expected when someone says they are going to perform such a provocative act as Jones did, especially knowing the tension that already exists between Christians and Muslims in some parts of the world. Martin Luther King rightly said that hate begets hate and violence begets violence. The gracious response of Tunnicliffe and Claiborne, and the subsequent grace of some Muslims in response, needs to be highlighted. Sadly though, such grace is not newsworthy, and so most of the world will only ever see the hatred that is fanned by such irresponsible acts as that initially proposed by Terry Jones.

Outbursts of grace such as that shown by Tunnicliffe and Claiborne need to be reported far and wide. In all of this sorry saga, we would all do well to remember what Bono used to say sometimes during U2 concerts, “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed; it’s true – all sons of Abraham”.

Thoughts on control

U2’s song ‘Moment of Surrender’ has a line which simply says ‘to be released from control’. It is yet another line from a U2 song which hit me like a brick.

Just about everything we do in life is designed to keep us in control of our lives. But the life of the cross is about relinquishing control to the only one who is ultimately trustworthy. Oh to be released from control on that day when we will have new bodies and new minds in the fully consummated kingdom of God.

I realized this morning that until my dying day I will be forever having to surrender the desire, no, the demand, to control my own life. C.S. Lewis described himself at his conversion as the most reluctant convert in all England. I think many of us can relate to that. Through the years of our lives we are constantly backing away from our hell instead of marching on our knees into heaven.

The paradox of the way of Jesus is that life is found only when we die to ourselves. The life of surrender is the life if victory – victory in defeat as Irish singer Sammy Horner puts it. God help me to surrender all to You every day.

Top 10 favourite songs

I was among a group of people who was recently asked their top 10 favourite songs of all time. My first thought is how can I do a top 10 when there have been so many songs that have impacted me over my life. For a start I could list just about any song from U2, such has been the inspiration of so much of their music. Then there are at least 10 from John Mellencamp that could be considered worthy of making a top 10 of all time according to me, as could a mtriad of songs frmo Midnight Oil. One band that didn’t make it was Queen, with a few of their songs that have certainly hit the spot. But in the end there can be only 10. So here is the list, with apologies to the many who did not make it:

  1. All I Want is You – U2
  2. Window in the Skies – U2 (a song I would like played at my funeral)
  3. For the Children – John Mellencamp
  4. The Real Life – John Mellencamp
  5. The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles
  6. In My Life – The Beatles
  7. In the Valley – Midnight Oil
  8. The Special Two – Missy Higgins
  9. Secret Garden – Bruce Springsteen
  10. Blow up the Pokies – The Whitlams

And for the best live performance of all time, can anyone go past U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name? One of their many anthems, I have never seen a peformer have 50,000 screaming fans in the palm of his hand like Bono does when this song is performed live. It sends shivers down my spine and makes me want to get up out of my chair and jump around the room. Check it out:

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Power of a lyric – Window in the Skies

‘I’ve got no shame…oh can’t you see what love has done?’ – U2, Window in the Skies


Therapist John Bradshaw talks about the concept of toxic shame, which arises out of the core belief that you are a bad person rather than a loved person who still tends to go their own way.

Bradshaw uses this concept in relation to the addict who hates their destructive behaviour but is unable to stop it. He then goes on to talk about the inner child and how that child has been deeply wounded and has never grown up. And so we have, in our society today, many children walking around in adult’s bodies. Toxic shame is destructive and must be distinguished from healthy shame. The latter is born of a healthy conscience which lets us know when we have done something destructive. Some might also use the term ‘convicted’ as in when we are convicted of sin.

The huge difference between healthy shame and toxic shame is that when something destructive is done, toxic shame concludes, “I’m a bad person”, whereas healthy shame says “I’ve done the wrong thing but I’m still loved”. The difference lies deep down in the human psyche; it has to do with our core beliefs about who we are. The person filled with toxic shame has a core belief that “I am not worth loving and so therefore it makes sense that I would take part in behaviour that is destructive, both to others and to myself”. The person who is able to feel healthy shame when they do something destructive has a core belief that they are loved unconditionally, and the fact that they occasionally do the wrong thing does not take away from that.

The person filled with toxic shame is much more likely to participate in behaviours that result in a downward spiral of destruction even though they don’t want to. The prime example of this is the addict who desperately wants to stop but finds themselves absolutely powerless to do so.They are trapped in a cycle where their behaviour confirms in their own mind that they are hopeless, so they may as well act like it. So then they act like it, which further confirms their core belief, and so the cycle continues.

The person with such a core belief is also trapped in another sense. They are trapped in the sense that they are unable to focus on anything outside of themselves. Their lives are focused ever inward and they are unable to give. Thus they are self-centred in the extreme. They often want to be a different person, but because they are trapped in the cycle of self, they are never able to realise their full potential. They are therefore despondent and miserable, without joy, unable to think clearly, and riddled with anxiety.

The only cure for the deep wound in the human heart is having a deep knowing of divine forgiveness. John Smith said many years ago that the effect of acceptance of forgiveness on society is much more powerful than any social welfare theory.

Knowing that you are a loved child of God quite literally makes all the difference in the world. It frees you from the bondage of self; it frees you to be able to give and to love, and thereby find the life you’ve always been looking for. The old words of the 1st letter of John are true – we love because He first loved us.

In a society where we are (literally) sold the message that having more stuff will cure the ache within, where the idea of ‘retail therapy’ is believed by millions, the words of Jesus have more relevance than ever – “what will it profit you if you gain the whole world but lose your very self?”.

May you know the life that is truly life; a life of service of others in the name of Jesus. Perfect love drives out all fear, all anxiety, and all toxic shame. Never again need we resort to acts which hurt others and which in turn hurt ourselves. If the Son will set you free, you will be free indeed. We have been given grace upon grace. Freely we have received, so we can freely give, all because He first loved us.

Power of a lyric – Love Rescue Me

‘Love rescue me, come forth and speak to me. Raise me up and don’t let me fall. No man is my enemy, my own hands imprison me. Love rescue me…I’m here without a name, in the palace of my shame…Love rescue me’ – U2, Love Rescue Me

Most, if not all, of what we say is spoken out of the deep recesses of our being. Out of the heart the mouth speaks. We are only so good at hiding what is really going on inside. Those with eyes to see however, and with hearts to care, will notice and gently bring to the surface the deep things that are troubling us. We are privileged if we have such friends in our lives.

In this haunting ballad, Bono seems to sing of a deep need for redemption. We are adept at bringing across an image of togetherness, of security. Our greatest fear is that we will be exposed in all our ugliness and as a result rejected – discarded on the scrapheap of life. Every day we bring across an image that all is well with our souls. The reality though is that, as we put on our make-up and get on the bus to struggle through another day, the way we look on the outside often betrays the reality of how we feel on the inside. Struggling through the tiredness as we head towards the office, we know that deep down there has to be more than this.

But love offers  a way out, indeed offers and – amazingly – provides a life beyond ourselves. Salvation is the restoration of the image of God inside us, and the glory of God is a human being fully alive, to quote some words of long ago.

The good news is that, as in the last verse of this song, and is in many of the Psalms, all is well that ends well. We can turn the first verse of this song around and sing ‘Love rescued me, came forth and spoke to me, raised me up and didn’t let me fall’. Here’s how U2 put it:


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