On any given day, it is extremely difficult to turn the radio onto a popular music channel and not be bombarded with messages about sex, drugs, alcohol and everything in between. It’s easy to get sucked into the catchy rhythms and beats, only to realize that those are the songs with the worst lyrics.
I have recently begun contemplating ways of connecting pop music to Jesus for today’s teenagers. Most teenagers' first instinct when getting in the car with their friends is not to pop in a Chris Tomlin CD. They want to listen to the popular music that their friends are listening to. Even Christian teenagers. Music has always been a huge part of life and culture, but unfortunately now most of the popular songs are complete trash.
When listening to the radio, I started trying to find glimpses of Jesus in the songs. This was quite the difficult task, and it wasn’t until I heard Bruno Mars' “Grenade” that I finally heard something that could possibly be connected with Jesus. Here are some of the lyrics:
Gave you all I had
And you tossed it in the trash
You tossed it in the trash, you did
To give me all your love is all I ever asked,
Cause what you don’t understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya
I would go through all this pain,
Take a bullet straight through my brain,
Yes, I would die for ya baby;
But you won’t do the same.
The love described in this song, is what most teenage girls would dream of receiving from a guy. Someone who loves them so much they would be willing to die for them. Sound familiar? What these girls (and guys) don’t realize is that there is Someone who has already done that. Someone who, like the horrific scenes expressed in this song, went through an unimaginable amount of pain and finally death, because He loved you and me so incredibly much it was worth it to Him. “And being found in appearance as a man, [Jesus] humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8
In response to the last line “But you won’t do the same,” some girls may be aghast that any woman would not return that intense love from a man who would be willing to give his life for the sake of hers. But don’t we do that everyday to Jesus? Non-Christians and Christians alike do this by constantly choosing the desires of the flesh instead of being willing to give up those shallow and wasteful things for the abundant life Jesus promises. For more information see Galatians 5.
In the second verse, Bruno Mars talks about going through even more pain only to realize the girl never loved him the way she claimed. To which he replies, “I’d still catch a grenade for you...” Can you imagine the love someone has for another, where even if that love is not reciprocated, that person would still die for the one he or she loves? The normal reaction would probably be resentment, bitterness, anger or hatred. But no, Bruno Mars still states that he would willingly catch a grenade for the woman he loves no matter if that love is reciprocated or not. Sounds familiar once more doesn’t it? Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus didn’t wait for us to love him back before He died. While we still didn’t love him, like the woman in the song, He willingly gave his life for us.
I know it’s a bit of a stretch to think of comparing Bruno Mars to Jesus. But maybe in a world full of songs about one night stands, getting drunk, and equating the “teenage dream” to wearing skin tight jeans and “going all the way” with your boyfriend, Bruno Mars gives us a little gem that can be used to metaphorically illustrate the love of Jesus. As long as we remember the many differences between the two. One of which being that Bruno Mars simply sings about the prospect of giving his life for the one he loves, Jesus actually did it.