Our starting, and possibly most important, point is this: there is a good and a bad. Good and bad aren’t some subjective ideologies that are specific to your generation, society, race, culture and so on, and it’s essential to understand, or at least, acknowledge that is the reality. I guess the reason why people try and make grey areas is so they can attempt to accommodate for everyone, and make everyone happy. Someone’s always going to be left out though. We are the grey area, the undecided, the ones that try to manoeuvre between good and bad as pleases our low standards and morals. The truth is bitter, but it’s THE truth, not a truth.
Now if there are certain things that are good and others that are bad, where can we find them? Simple answer! The Bible! So much of the Bible clearly outlines the dos and don’ts of life, and for this article I’ll only give three:
- Swearing/Cursing (or any negative speaking for that matter) – James 3:10, Ephesians 5:4
- Murder – Exodus 20:13
- Fornication (Sexual activity outside of marriage) – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Hebrews 13:4
So with this outlined, we can talk about the intake and the output. We all need to be aware (and probably are) that we are spiritual beings living in the physical. Follow that train of thought, it makes you aware that your spiritual influences and dictates what your physical is doing. Think of it as a king and his country (in the time that kings ruled of course, not today’s governments). The country doesn’t go to war without the kings say so, in fact, the country does nothing without the king ordaining it first. That’s the relationship between the spirit and the physical. Continuing on this train of thought, if we’re all spiritual beings, then everything has spiritual meaning. Same analogy, if another country comes and attacks your country, it’s safe to assume that the king of that country planned that attack. It wouldn’t happen for no reason, or just be a random act, whether or not you, or even the people of the country understand it at the time it’s happening. In the same way, nothing happens without the spirit deciding that should happen first. In this way, you could sort of say that the spirit is in charge of everything, it’s just a more simple way of saying it. But then, what’s in charge of the spirit? What influences it and in doing so, what influences us?
And so we begin the discussion. When I was younger, around 12 or 13, my older brother and I was just starting to really get into Hip-Hop. I mean, Gospel and Gospel Hip-Hop had been around forever in our house, from CeCe and Mary Mary to Tryumf and Jahaziel, you can bet my parents had played it for us at some point. But this is around 2007, 2008, so YouTube is just hitting it big, and there’s a whole new world of everything available to us. Music especially. Having an older brother at this point usually means you follow him into everything without admitting it, so when he started up his iTunes and put guys like Q-Tip, Pharoahe Monch, G-Unit and Lupe Fiasco in (3 of 4 of which are still among my favourite artists, guess which one fell off) I was immediately drawn to these guys speaking from perspectives I’d never heard about things I’d never heard about. Man, I remember playing Kick Push to death around this time, it was like every time you went online there was some new incredible artist or song to listen to. I tended to overlook what my parents saw as bad qualities as just little blemishes in an otherwise beautiful genre. A love for Hip-Hop was born, and a love for all that it speaks on about came with it. My dad wasn’t too fond of this from his eldest two children, forcing us to listen to these albums in hiding (sorry dad if you’re reading).
I hope you’re still thinking about the spiritual being in charge of everything.
Now, as mature as you may think you are in your early to mid teens, or even as mature as you may actually be, you’ll (hopefully) never be smarter than your parents at life. We got in trouble quite a lot from rebellion in little things. Just the mean mug you’d have around the house, looking at your parents the wrong way, not coming home when you’re told… The latter seems a lot bigger than the previous two, but see how easy it is to disobey in big things when you start it in little things? Before you know it the house was a heated war between father and eldest sons, with mum and youngest two sons stuck in the middle, and Hip-Hop as the soundtrack. And as much as it’s natural to argue with your family (by no means did we have an unhappy childhood, it was the best time), no-one enjoys constant conflict with your parents over things that most of the time don’t need to be fought over. And it’s only in recent times I’ve realised how much I contributed, if not initiated the trouble I’d get into. Now it’s not like I can blame the music I was listening to for my attitude, but at this point I was a Christian by name and not nature. Took the title and lived the popular kid life at secondary school. So what’s my spirit saying in all this?
Well, 12, 13, my spirit is probably just syncing with my conscious, i.e. I’m just becoming aware of it, so there’s no way I can be aware of my intake and how that affects my spiritual, and therefore physical and emotional output. Hip-Hop comes in, and brings with it pretty much all the things I listed as bad things at the start of this. Spiritually, these things don’t immediately bring the idea that they’re alright to do, but more they desensitise you to the point you see it as a normality of life. Especially as a teenager, you just figure everything is like this. The spirit gets used to all this swearing, killing and sex, and as time goes on, it begins to expect that, as that’s what you’ve been feeding it. If you gave a dog a food it shouldn’t eat every single day, regardless of whether it likes it or not to start with, at a point it’s going to be expecting it, looking forward to it, and eventually, yearning it. The same with the lyrical and spiritual content of the music I was listening to. That’s the intake. The output? The manifestation of all these things being fed to my spirit. Now, when I say manifestation, I don;t mean I was swearing at everyone, killing people and sleeping about. No, but my mind state changed. The voice in my head definitely swore at people, which may not seem like a big deal, but with the swearing going into my spirit from the music, and me swearing in my head, the idea of swearing at someone seemed more and more applicable to situations and sometimes even needed. I started looking at girls in a way more sexual and objective way, looking for characteristics described in the music I was listening to, and I often killed people off in my mind by just ignoring them and being hostile towards them for no apparent reason, and particularly in this internet generation, it’s so easy to say ‘Kill Yourself’ to someone without realising you’re actually wishing death on someone. Remember, this isn’t a conscious change in character, so not only is it confusing for me in a social aspect but what I considered to be spiritually right was completely compromised.
Now, I’m not going to into the ins and outs of how I got out of that because this isn’t about me, I’m just using what I know happened to me as a reference point, and I’m sure many people have experienced this too. But the main point of this entire thing is you need to beware of what you’re letting into that spirit. Now, it’s just not realistic to say ‘I’m just never going to listen to secular music again, or partake in any secular activity for the rest of my life’, because the world we live in is a secular world, and to do that you’d have to be locked in your room for the rest of your life with no internet or smart phone, and even then it’s not a guarantee you’ll be safe from it. But we all need to have a healthy balance. We need to be preserving our spirits for eternity, and not feeding it rubbish that could corrupt it and us. Think of it like food. The cheap stuff taste nicer at first, but you feel awful afterwards, you get fat, and end up spending more money on it in the long run. Whereas if you buy the healthy stuff, though it may be hard to get used to at first, but your taste adjusts to it and it’s so much better for in the long run.
The food analogy is actually a great one, because if you think about it, the ease of access to cheap food almost makes it an inconvenience to get what you really need for your body health wise, but after eating loads of kebabs, burgers and chinese (all three of which I love), your mood actuallly changes. Like, eating unheathly food often changes you negatively, but it also hooks you, you eat it more and more the worse you feel. And the people providing so many opportunities for this food to be bought can always say that they did display the healthy food, it was your choice not to get it. Get it?
So, in the sense of that long winded example, we need to be mindful of our intake, and you’ll be able to tell your intake from your output. Now, if your output shows your input is detrimental to your spirit, it can be so hard to try and change your intake, the same way it’s hard find a diet plan you like. I can never do diets, not because I love the food I eat but because I don’t know what the food on the diet plan is like. My taste is stuck on things detrimental to me. Well guess what? There’s this banging Chef right, who honestly cooks the best food I’ve ever tasted in my life, completely wiping the kebabs off my mind. Once I had some of the food Chef Christ cooked me up, my taste changed, not instantly, but the more I had it, the more I enjoyed it, and the less I craved the kebabs I once loved eating. Do you get that? I think I’ll leave the analogy there.
What I’m saying without all the food is this; Jesus is the changer of intakes. One of the the problems in this day and age is there’s so many objectively bad things that are taught as subjectively okay and even good to do, and you get acquired to that behaviour, to that intake, and it because your output, and even changing that. But when you realise how these things affect your spirit, that’s where Jesus can come in make a change. But you need to be willing to try have your intake changed first, you can’t have two sources of intake. You can’t be a regular customer at rival restaurants cooking completely different food, your loyalty will be somewhere, and it’ll show. This is also how you can tell those who claim they’re Christians and those who are.
So to bring it back to music, the more I ponder this subject and pray on it, the more I find myself yearning music by Anita Wilson, Tryumf, Guvna B, or even music in the mainstream that has a positive message. Of course, I still love Hip-Hop and do listen to the artists I grew up listening to, but I’ve had to tone it down because I know my spirit, and I know I need to moderate it so it’s not affecting me. That’s the reason we do music at JC4Me, we just make the kinda stuff we wanna listen to. Or, we cook what it is we want to eat. And because we’re on Jesus’ side, that comes through in the music. Or the food.