Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Radioactive Prophet

My 3 year-old son loves the song "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. He wanders around the house singing it, he demands we play it on the radio regularly, and he asks to listen to it almost every night as his "bedtime song."

When I was hearing it for the 10,000th time last week (thankfully I really like the song, too), one of the lines struck me as familiar in a different way. In the buildup to the chorus, the lyrics sing "I feel it in my bones, enough to make my system blow." On this particular time, those words brought to mind Jeremiah 20:9: "God's word is inside me like a burning fire shut up in my bones. I cannot hold it in any longer" (emphasis mine).

Jeremiah was a prophet in the Old Testament who faced a lot of resistance from the powers that be (probably because he was bringing them bad news) and he speaks the words in 20:9 as part of a passage saying he wishes he could give up and go home, but God's pull on him is too strong, "enough to make his system blow."

As this thought struck me, it occurred to me that many of the lyrics in the song could be heard as the words of a prophet calling for change:
- "Welcome to the new age. Oh, I'm radioactive"
- "I raise my flag... It's a revolution, I suppose."
- "I'm waking up."
- "This is it, the apocalypse."
- There's even a reference to "the prison bus" and Jeremiah was imprisoned just before the quote in verse 9. (I know it's a stretch, but humor me.)

I don't think Imagine Dragons had Old Testament prophets in mind when they wrote the song, but I think it's a interesting way to think about following God. What if we were to imagine living in God's light as "a revolution," a "waking up" that "makes my system blow" and replaces it with something new? What if we expected the word of God to be radioactive, a force that burns inside us and contaminates and infects anyone or thing that gets close?

In my sermon this past week, I invited the church to imagine themselves as prophets, but I didn't paint it in terms of radioactivity and revolutions. Is that a terrifying or exciting idea? Certainly most of the prophets did not have beds of roses (actually none that come to mind), but they lived with a purpose and felt compelled to act and speak on behalf of God's people. What in your life gives you a burning sense of purpose and how could that be the spirit of God speaking to you in your bones?

"I'm breathing in the chemicals." -Imagine Dragons, "Radioactive"

(For more fun, try listening to Imagine Dragons' song "Demons" as a Psalm about sinfulness and imagine the line "I can't escape this now, unless you show me how" as a cry to God.)

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