Thursday, June 23, 2011

Missionary Man

So I'm riding into work this morning listening to First Wave on my Sirius radio. The song Missionary Man by the Eurythmics starts playing and for some reason I was able to focus on the lyrics of the song and not just the beat or the catchy chorus. I was intrigued by how the song progressed and the story it was telling. The song has three verses that speak a lot of truth about sin, faith and missions. What baffled me though was how it ended. Look at the lyrics below and I will continue my thoughts:

Well I was born an original sinner.
I was borne from original sin.
And if I had a dollar bill
For all the things I've done
There'd be a mountain of money
Piled up to my chin...

My mother told me good
My mother told me strong.
She said "be true to yourself
And you can't go wrong."
"But there's just one thing
That you must understand."
"You can fool with your brother -
But don't mess with a missionary man."

Don't mess with a missionary man.
Don't mess with a missionary man.

Well the missionary man
He's got God on his side.
He's got the saints and apostles
Backin' up from behind.
Black eyed looks from those Bible books.
He's a man with a mission
Got a serious mind.
There was a woman in the jungle
And a monkey on a tree.
The missionary man he was followin' me.
He said "stop what you're doing."
"Get down upon your knees."
"I've got a message for you that you
better believe."
The song writers, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart seemed to get right to the point of having to respond to the missionary man's message but they never do. How similar is this to how many around the world respond. Many people do the same thing. They know about God, sin and Christ but they refuse to believe the Gospel and respond to it. Many know the story, many have heard it over and over but they stop short of making a decision. This is not a new phenomenon, it has been happening for almost 2000 years. In Acts 26 Paul is on trial before King Agrippa and he gives an incredible testimony of the grace of God, in other words, he boldly shares the Gospel with Agrippa and all those around him. But listen to the exchange that takes place:
Acts 26: 24-28 - 24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” 25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
Paul wanted desperately for Agrippa to respond to the Gospel but he did not. He heard what Paul said, he saw the change in Paul's life, he knew these things to be true but he chose not to believe. Why is that? Why do some hear the Gospel and respond and some do not? I guess in reality we all respond. Some respond and accept the Gospel and some respond negatively and reject the Gospel.

I am not sure what Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were thinking when they wrote Missionary Man. I am not sure if one of them had heard the Gospel and were wrestling with it and out came this song or if it was a response to something they had seen or heard about on the news; we may never really know.

How much longer are you going to resist responding to the Gospel? How many more times are you going to respond like King Agrippa?
II Corinthians 6: 2b - I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
Don't put it off any longer.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're reading the lyrics far too simplistically. Based on a few of the lines in the song, this is not simply about a missionary witnessing to people. In my opinion it's clearly about clergy sexual abuse. In particular, the line "You can fool with your brother/But don't mess with a missionary man" is saying that even experimenting with incest is better than risking sexual abuse by clergy. "Get down upon your knees/I've got a message for you that you'd better believe" is not about praying; it's about what so many clergy abuse victims are forced to do: kneel at the feet of their minister to give him oral sex, while the minister claims that he's doing it to show the victim God's love.

    And the title is a double entendre encompassing both religion (missionaries) and sex (the "missionary position").

    Interpreting the song in that way would explain the ending that puzzled you so much. This is not a song about hearing a message of conversion and stopping before the time of response; it's about the time-freeze which happens for abuse victims - both the suspension of time during the abuse itself, and the terrible power that abuse has to arrest the normal life development of those who suffer it.

    I'm aware that comments are moderated on this blog. Approving my comment would, of course, indicate your willing to face the possibility of interpreting the song in this way. Moderating and deleting it would be to do what many believers do - ignore the unpleasant realities of life and the dark truth that clergy abuse victims experience.