Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jesus Is Just All Right with Me

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.
John 3:36

Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right,
Oh yeah Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right
(the Doobie Brothers)

This morning I drove North on Route 295 to meet a colleague for breakfast. As I passed the malls I saw a huge billboard. It advertises a toll free number to call and asks a question, “HEAVEN” (with appropriate blue sky and faint clouds) or “HELL” (with red orange flames filling half of the billboard). And under that it gives a scripture reference, John 3:36.

In the Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases that verse this way, “Whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever, but the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.”

Ironically, the folks who put up the billboard chose their scripture well. They experience God as an angry darkness. And they threaten others with that same vision.

On the car radio I had “Cool 102” from Cape Cod. And at that very moment they were playing the Doobie Brothers singing, “Jesus is just all right with me.” On the way back to the church as I passed the same billboard, the song “Spirit in the Sky,” by Norman Greenbaum came on.

How amazing is that? You probably do not remember Greenbaum, who had only that one hit record (they were records then). The website “Songfacts” reports that Greenbaum wanted to write a religious rock song. He is Jewish, but instead of using a traditional Jewish word for God, he used “Jesus” because he thought it would sell better. It certainly sold well; the song has been used to sell all sorts of things. In the advertisements, they either use only the music, or they cut and splice to avoid Jesus.

We could spend a long time meditating on that.

If you paste this link in your browser,
you will hear the song and see some now and then pictures of Greenbaum. (And you will be happy for the rest of the day). You can also visit the Norman Greenbaum website at

How bizarre it is that the rock songs are closer to the spirit of Jesus than the devout and dedicated (but unbelievably judgmental) people responsible for the billboard?

The billboard folks might want to ponder the penalty for “disobeying the Son." But on a brighter note (a Rock and Roll note or notes) it reminds me that the spirit lives and will not be confined to our narrow visions. God is at work in unlikely places.

It is a Lenten reminder that Christ is risen. Or as the song says,

Jesus is just all right with me
Jesus is just all right, Oh yeah

No comments:

Post a Comment