More than twenty years ago Freddy Mercury hauntingly asked the world, “Who wants to live forever?” (here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L8-FTvSVxs).
According to the Fall Out Boys, we all do.
That is, at least, what their iconic hit Centuries envisions:
Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me
Remember me for centuries
Centuries packs quite a punch (here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBr7kECsjcQ). A punch that is felt in a host of ways. From the driving guitar riffs, which lie just beneath the surface of the song’s teeming waters of longing for legend to the bass drum’s rhythmic mimicking of the human heart: its punch delivers a guttural experience!!
The song’s punch and popularity caught the ear of ESPN executives, who promptly leveraged its potency to entrench America’s inaugural college football playoff in the hearts and heads of the worldwide community.
Given the way we worship and idolize athletics, Centuries was a slam dunk for the megalomaniacs over at ESPN. The song, however, contains a message with far greater meaning than our modern day fascination with fumbles and first downs allows. Its driving guitar riffs alone pack a punch more powerful than the meager and monetary aspirations of the sporting world’s elite.
Pete Wentz, bassist for the immensely popular band, hints at that deeper message, suggesting that we all long for more in life; desiring a richer, more meaningful existence. He employs both contemporary and ancient images to capture the heart of the song when he says,
‘Centuries’ goes back to that David versus Goliath idea. Even U2 had to start somewhere! For the most part, a lot of legendary tales start from humble beginnings. People tend to forget that.’
Hmm . . .
Legendary tales start from humble beginnings.
Sounds a little like the Gospel story; the ancient story suggesting that we are
- Born for more.
- Created for meaning.
- Designed for eternity.
Who wants to live forever?
We all do.
The desire to live forever can be seen daily, even routinely in our world. Amazingly, in our increasingly secular age, this desire remains stubbornly unacknowledged and resolutely ignored, by the modern believer and secularists alike!
How do we see signs of eternity that dwell within the workings of this world?
How might we imagine the full Gospel of God within the pictures revealed by those who perhaps don’t know Him but express a longing for him that we all share?
Scripture suggests that we look toward Him. More precisely, that we reflect and meditate on his words, which will empower us to live His way.
Whenever I encourage meditation, some people instinctively cringe.
Muttering responses like, “Hold on a second. Isn’t that an eastern idea?” Or,
“Oh no, you can’t do that. That would open you up to all sorts of false belief.”
The call to mediate is steeped in the Judeo- Christian tradition. Consider the following encouragement from the Psalmist:
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer, Psalm 19:14
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1 – 2
When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, Psalm 63:6
Peter Leithhart, in First Things, offers us a compelling explanation of the term, meditation:
The word “meditate” refers to a sound, the sound of muttering to oneself, the sound of whispered self-conversation. Or, the sound of a lion with its prey (Isaiah 31:4), the sound of thunder (Job 37:2), the sound of a harp (Psalm 9:17; 92:4) or of doves (Isaiah 38:14). Yahweh tells Joshua to growl over the word, protective as a lion; to rumble like a small thundercloud with the word in his mouth; to fill his mouth with the word so that he will become a musical instrument; to eat the book so that he coos like the dove of the Spirit.
As one meditates and reflects on the words of Scripture, we become more aware of God’s presence with us and his Gospel presence in our world. Such sight – or vision – is the outcome of fixing our eyes on Christ. While the words of our Lord serve as a deep resource for the soul, they also paint the full picture that artists like the Fall Out Boys attempt to capture.
Consider the following words from our Messiah and his earliest followers:
John 14:1 – 3, “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. 2 My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? 3 When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too.”
The Fall Out Boys sing of desire – a yearning and longing to be known for centuries. The Messiah imagines a world in which we will live forever. The Fall Out Boys capture, as does much of modern culture, a portion of the Gospel that our Messiah fully reveals. Meditating on passages John 14:1 – 3 restores my world wearied soul even as it heightens my attentiveness to God’s presence in the world He invites me to inhabit.
Consider these words written by Jesus’ earliest followers to fledgling communities of faith:
Ephesians 2:10, For we are his workmanship, created in union Christ, our Messiah, for good works, which God prepared beforehand for us to do.
The Fall Out Boys speak of a journey from obscurity toward a vast and far-reaching life. The earliest apostles speak of a union we share with the Messiah – born forth from and in His image. This created union has already established good works for us to do. The Fall Out Boys (and most of us, for that matter) portray a partial truth that the earliest followers of Jesus fully reveal:
- We are born for more!
- We are created for meaning!
- We are designed for eternity
He has indeed created us for more! Much more than any of us dare dream or imagine. From the cashier to the college professor, our work matters, and we deeply desire that it brings good to us and those around us!
We all want to live forever.
Freddy Mercury’s lyrics haunt us because we sense that our culture, which so wonderfully expresses these sacred yearnings of the human soul, recklessly pursues means toward them that eventually end in despair.
That’s where the Gospel and the gospel alone provides hope. A hope that we who believe unfortunately fail to share because of our failure to see.
If we are going to provide a faithful presence in these times, then we need to disrupt some things in our life and embark on a journey of renewal!
Grace and Peace,