The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and people say, ‘Look at him! He’s a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ “Yet, wisdom is proved right by its actions.” Matthew 11:19 Gods Word Translation
This verse is the quintessential picture of the “unplugged” Jesus. We see here no pews, no stained glass, no sound or projection systems, not even any worship sets or sermons. There are people, but they are not dressed in their Sunday best, and they are not quiet and reverent. And yet here, in what appears to be the most non-religious of settings if not even irreligious, Jesus is not only present, but He is an active participant in engaging relationships. In the process He is listening, being moved with compassion and dispensing as only He can, His mercy, wisdom and healing grace.
There is a country music song out right now that has hit the charts entitled “If I Could Have a Beer with Jesus.” I fell in love with the song the first time I heard it. Some people might be surprised to hear that, knowing I am a believer in Jesus and a pastor besides. But I did and here’s why. And it is related directly with this verse out of Matthew 11:19. For me the lyrics capture in a disarming way the genuine heart cry resonating deeply within the soul of both believer and unbeliever, to relate to a Jesus free from religious and judgmental stereotypes.
I was not surprised to hear Thomas Rhett, who wrote and performs the song, quoted as saying “Every time I play that song live, a lot of people will cry.” And listen to what Rhett reveals next. “I’ve had a preacher come up to me saying, ‘Man, I would love to get you up to Wisconsin and sing that song at our church service.’” My sentiments exactly! Except Thomas, why not just skip the Cheesehead state and come directly to Viking Land?
Why are people crying when they hear a song about a guy wishing he could sit down with Jesus in a quiet corner of a bar, “order up a couple of tall ones,” ask Him about some of life’s persistent questions and “be sure to let Him do the talkin”?
There are a number of possible reasons. Rhett asks Jesus in the song, “How’d you turn the other cheek, to save a sorry soul like me? Have you been there from the start? How’d you change a sinner’s heart?” For one, encountering Jesus’ love, acceptance and forgiveness so free from judgment, is always overwhelming to the common awareness most of us have of our own sin and shortcomings. Jesus never had difficulty in relating to sinners. His problem was generally with those, particularly religious people, who had difficulty relating to sinners.
Another thing about the song that could make some people cry is imagining the opportunity to seek solace from Jesus about our concerns with end-of-life issues and eternity. While Rhett is hoping and praying Jesus will stay “til we shut the whole place down” he continues his questions. “Do you hear the prayers I send? What happens when life ends? And when you think you’re comin’ back again?” “And is heaven really just beyond the stars? . . .What’s on the other side? Is mom and daddy alright? And if it ain’t no trouble tell them I said hi.”
All in all, this song is another example of good ole country music theology which I’ve written about before. In my opinion it reveals a Biblical view of Jesus that is critical right now for our increasingly secularized world. It is spiritual salve to the alienated sin-sick soul. And it is an inspiration to those of us who know Him in this way, to convey that same “beer with Jesus” simpatico and rapport with those God brings into our lives.
To check out Thomas Rhett singing “If I Could Have a Beer with Jesus” click here.
What are your thoughts pro or con about this topic?
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