Guest Contributor — Pastor Chris Price (Opelika Baptist Church, Brownsboro, Texas)
As a kid, the first years of my life were fostered in the southern California culture. No just SoCal but San Diego. My mom reared me on lots of music but I took on an affinity for reggae and specifically its king, Bob Marley. To this day, I love me some Bob. I actually did a paper on him in Junior College. I got an “A” and Mom was proud.
I would listen to reggae off and on thought the years. Not always caring who the artists were, but just digging the groove. I even passed a bit of my love of this genre on to my darling daughter Remington. I love to hear her croon Buffalo Solider as we drive in the car or softly sing Three Little Birds as she listens on her phone. It brings joy to my heart as a dad. I taught her about our Messiah and about Marley. Life is good.
My lackadaisical love for reggae combined with countless hours in the Christian books store music section meant that I was providential destined to run across Christafari during my early years as Christ follower. The name kind of conjures up picture of who and what they are. Christians with dreadlocks who seek to glorify God and promote Christ with reggae music among hash smokers and Rastafarians. Dreadlocks and Jesus. They were the coolest but soon my fascination would fade.
Fast forward to my seminary years. I run across an article that peaks my curiosity. A Hasidic Jew named Matisyahu that beat boxes, raps and sings reggae. What? A Kosher musical triple threat? “No way,” I thought to myself. I delved into finding out more about this Torah observant, Shabbos keeping singer who was all the rage. He had been around for a while and even had a couple of legendary performances in my home state of Texas. He could rock a microphone and recite a berakhot. I fell in love with such songs like a King and His Crown. As I related to a classmate about this in the library and how he was performing with Christian rockers P.O.D, the young man who worked in the library commented about Matisyahu. I asked him what he thought about the Old Testament driven lyrics and religious content of his music as it was exciting to me . And it was here that he burst my selfish happy bubble as he said that Matisyahu was “one Savior away from being saved.” Powerful and painful words. I had been loving the music but not the man. Matisyahu was almost there but not quite. He had laws to live by but not a relationship that led to new life. He had admiration of many from both sides of the synagogue walls but he was dead to God in trespasses. Chosen but condemned by sin. And all I was worried about when his new album would come out.
In recent days, Matisyahu has undergone a radical transformation that leaves many questions. He has shaved his beard, lost a record label, moved from one coast to another, began the pursuit of acting, changed music styles, and violently attacked a photographer. People question if he given up on his davening and his performance of mitzvoth. He had left many shaking their heads. His life is in transition. His soul is in peril. And people will cheer for him whether he pursues a dead faith or a path or degeneration as long as he keeps cranking out the tunes. But what of his Soul? What of His eternity? Who will reach him? Or his wife Tallia, and their three sons Laivy, Shalom, and Menachem Mende? Will we just praise his musical prowess on the microphone or take him to the throne of the Messiah in prayer — pleading for His soul and that of his family? He may sing of a king and his crown but he has neither a Savior nor a diadem. Matisyahu needs to be reached for his soul’s sake. And so do millions of other, less famous Jewish people. Who will pray for them? Who will reach them? Who will tell them of them of our Messiah? Will it be you?
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