"I’m telling you, again… I’m not anybody special, and I’m certainly not here to preach to anybody… but coming from somebody who was just in a really f---ed up place, and I used that word with discretion, but it just describes where I was,"
My friends, the more I get to know Jesus… the more I love His nature, His heart for humanity, His authenticity and His consistent confounding of the best wisdom of men!
Case in point, Oliver Anthony whose real name is Chris Lunsford… six months ago no one who knew Oliver would have said that he would have a national stage from which to share the Good News’s of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oliver was a drinking, weed smoking, angry agnostic…
In his own words:
“I’ll say this, and I’ll go. I spent a long time being an angry little agnostic punk, and I remember talking about sky daddy and cloud papa. I would get so angry about the concept of God… because I had sort of perverted my vision of what God was… because I looked at the religion of man as God… but not God. (But) there is a divine creator that loves you and sometimes it takes Falling down on your knees and getting ready to call things quits before it becomes obvious that He’s there…. But he’s always there. You just gotta look out for Him, and listen for Him.”
About 30 days before he released the song that catapulted him to fame he dedicated His life to Christ… and this weed smoking, cussing, drinking man began his journey to heaven! He gave it all up for Christ!
Having been raised in the Church he was familiar with all the lingo. He could see the hypocrisy, the politics, and the inauthenticity of the people in Church and he was like many... turned off by them. He could not envision himself agreeing with people he just could not agree with.
He went from reading the Bible just occasionally to reading it passionately… and He found himself in the throne room of Christ!
I love Jesus… oh the way He shakes things up makes me smile! Just when it looks like the Church is DEAD in it’s religiosity and false piety… God just picks up and sends a John the Baptist to speak truth in the darkness!
This has always been the case! This is why I love the scriptures… if you move past the religious roadblocks you can find a Radical, transformative, living God shown in these pages! Oliver Anthony isn’t the first person who has travelled this road… and he won’t be the last!
I find this absolutely encouraging and life giving! One of the things I struggle with most is self condemnation… beating myself up for my own mistakes. Revisiting old conversations… allowing past shame to define who I am…
… but I forget… Christ replaced my story. He took all my bullshit failures and the entire book of my life… all the parts I don’t want anyone to read… and he placed his perfection in my book… on the cover it’s still me, but inside it’s Christs holiness and redemption!
That my friend is our God! Not a stuffy religion, legalistic rules no one can follow and sister Bertha at the organ… not the Westboro Baptist Church and certainly not the Church that endorses whatever the latest fad is! These are man made, while Christs redemptive grace is authentic!
Joseph was a nobody… sold to slavery and through Gods power he transformed Egypt during years of drought.
Gideon was a nobody… he was busy threshing wheat when God called him to free the Israelites from their oppression.
I think of Balaam… Balaam was intent on cursing Israel, God used a donkey to challenge Balaam. The Donkey said to Balaam “why have you struck me these three times”. I mean… if God can use a jackass I think He can use me in some way!
David was the overlooked son of Jesse… inconsequential… and he became King of Isreal!
Skipping to the New Testament- Peter was a fisherman… I am certain he wasn't a man most Churches would invite to run their board! It was a hard sea life for him and his brother and his father before him.
Matthew was a corrupt tax collector… when Jesus called him he gave it up and followed him!
Let’s not leave out the women… Rahab was a prostitute in Jericho… in Matthew she is one of the only two women listed in Jesus genealogy.
Mary Magdalene... she was condemned to die by the religious Pharisees and Scribes… saved by Jesus from an angry mob. She was the first to see Christ has risen. The first to be told by the angels that her saviour had left the grave!
Esther was also inconsequential... and her people maligned in her land… yet she became the wife of the powerful king and saved her people from certain ruin.
Time would run out if I went through history and pointed out one radical, sold out, transformed… sinner turned saint after another that was rejected by the Church… raised to visibility by God to shine a light into darkness! There has and always will be more Oliver Anthony’s… because Jesus keeps calling more to repentance and forgiveness!
Even as the so called “Christian” rags written by religious, politically driven Pharisees such as a recent Christianity Today article that called Anthony's message out as “unchristian”… because he doesn't specifically say we should “love our neighbour”… the truth is they can’t handle the authenticity, the messiness that is Grace... and most certainly they can't comprehend how a man gave his vices up for Christ! After all the culturally in tune Pastor would ensure that people feel approved in their sin.
Oliver Anthony’s song as well as his message are a modern day lament… and like days of old - those bound by cultural deception or it’s opposite - religious legalism will miss the truth in the lament and judge the politics or the motive of the man.
The cry of those who call on Christ… this is the Christ of whom the scriptures say… A bruised Reed he will not crush, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out… the cry is for authenticity, honesty, righteousness and justice.
Oliver was not looking for limelight, but like others he could hear the cry of the people… he says of his hearts cry:
“People are SO damn tired of being neglected, divided and manipulated," he wrote. "There's nothing special about me. I'm not a good musician, I'm not a very good person. I've spent the last five years struggling with mental health and using alcohol to drown it.”
"We all sin, and we all do stupid things; we’re all just people. Nobody’s special or righteous," he said. "People sometimes act like they’re special and righteous, but we’re all just the same thing… We all serve some master whether we realize it or not, so why not let it be the Master that is above all." (From Fox News article)
This is why I love Jesus… he takes that which the world rejects, tramples on and spits out and he lifts them out of the muck. His grace knows no bounds. He takes the nobody and He transforms them to be His somebody to tell the world about what saved their souls.
I love it… this guy who just a few months ago came to Christ could share the gospel and a bible reading on the Joe Rogan Podcast. He read Proverbs 4v20. He is doing what the North American Pastors should be doing! No one would have picked Oliver for this task… ah but Jesus… He continues to confound the minds of corrupt man!
‘My son, pay attention to what I say, turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight. Keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body."
"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it," he continued reading. "Keep your mouth free from perversity, keep corrupt talk from your lips, let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you, give careful thoughts to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left, keep your foot from evil.'"
"That’s pretty f---ing profound," Rogan said in response. Anthony described Proverbs as "not preachy," but "good guidance that you would want a father to give to his son."
I feel inspired… I find myself also lifting up my eyes and asking myself what I need to give up… to gain this bold, messy faith! My hope is that authentic, bold messy faith like this catches like wildfire!
So pay no attention to the left and right of the message Oliver Anthony is bringing... rather pay attention to the authenticity of a man who was changed through Jesus Christ. More will come! More men and women who reach the end of themselves...
Some will be raised in the Church like Oliver... others will have never stepped foot in a Church... wherever they come from, they will all share this message
"I'm just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, about somebody who can save their soul!"