Coldplay and Ecclesiastes in the Morning

Last year, I wrote a small group study on finding Jesus in secular music. I thought it was important because most people do not listen to Christian music. You have to reach people where they are, and where they are is, often, wedged between two ear buds.

I love music and I am pretty diverse in my listening. There is good music and bad music, but most music has some message if you pay attention. Songs do not have to be about God to spark a conversation about God. Some groups, like U2, espouse their faith openly. Others write about emotion, longing, sadness, or life in general. These are the ones that I find most interesting.

Whenever I listen to Coldplay, I hear a lot of Biblical allusion. The point here is not to attribute some belief system to the writer or writers of a song but, instead, to apply Biblical understanding to what they are saying. Listen to Viva la Vida, for example.

I don’t know what inspired Chris Martin to write the song, but did read somewhere that many of the songs on the disk were recorded in churches around the world. The song appears to lament fame and fortune from the viewpoint of someone who had everything and found it to be nothing. To me, the theme goes along with the book of Ecclesiastes.

Oh, how I prospered! 
I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. 
What’s more, I kept a clear head through it all. 
Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. 
I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. 
I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day’s work!  
Then I took a good look at everything I’d done, looked at all the sweat and hard work. 
But when I looked, I saw nothing but smoke. 
Smoke and spitting into the wind. 
There was nothing to any of it. Nothing.
Ecclesiastes 2:9-11

Ecclesiastes is a different book. The message is clear. Greed, sex, fame, fortune are never enough. There has to be something more to life. We all end up dead and these things just don’t mean a lot in the big picture. This generation could really connect with the book if we would only teach it. In the song, Coldplay goes on to sing the same message.

And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

Did you ever reach a goal and then ask yourself “is this really it?” Maybe you have the big corner office, maybe you got the new promotion, the new car, the Rolex. Maybe you have already built your castle only to wonder about missed opportunities and long forgotten friendships. Maybe your dreams were simpler. Maybe you dreamed of a fairytale marriage but your Prince or Princess now has a beer gut and wears socks with sandals. When the glamour you dreamed about in life wears off, maybe you have asked yourself “what was this all about?”

It’s a fair question.

What’s it all about? We don’t live in a vacuum or a bubble. The things we do touch the lives of others. Decisions you make today mean something. When you wake up each morning, you face a new life, a new opportunity, and a renewed purpose. It’s up to you. Do something cool today.

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