After teaching on being a “follower” of Christ and not a fan this past Sunday, I was more than anxious to hit the road and spend a few days alone with Jesus in the Rocky Mountains. On my way out of town on Monday morning I stopped by Starbucks for a “Red Eye” and noticed Tony Bennett’s new CD entitled “Duets 2.” I had a long road ahead of me so I figured it would be a welcome addition to my music library for the trip.
As I gave the CD a first-run, I was in awe at all the different artists clamoring to sing a duet with this living legend! The music was playful at first as Lady Gaga kicked the CD off with a great rendition of “The Lady is a Tramp.” John Mayer added his bluesy voice to the next track, “One for my Baby.” The CD took a turn for the spectacular when Aretha Franklin stepped up to the microphone on “How Do You Keep the Music Playing.”
While some of the artists seemed a bit clumsy trying to sing along with Tony (Willy Nelson), Aretha gave me the impression that she has done this dance before! What really struck me, however, was how even the most “identifiable” voices (Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli) were able to eventually blend with Tony and make beautiful music in the process.
Forgive me for making too much of this, but isn’t this kind of how we are to follow Jesus? Remember how I used the word “clamoring” earlier when describing how these artists all seem to want to be on Tony’s album? They recognize greatness and they want to be associated with it somehow. They’ll even step out of their comfort zones and clumsily follow Tony’s lead in a style of music that is in no way representative of their individual styles. By the end of the song, what may have started out as an awkward and uncomfortable dance of two individuals has become a blending together of purpose and passion. It wouldn’t work any other way!
These artists are all distinct and successful in their own right! They have all “made it” as individual artists. But when they step up to the microphone with Tony Bennett, you get the sense that it is his way or no way at all! They have to let go of their rigid styles, be it opera or country or pop, to be able to follow the fluid vocal movements of the jazz legend!
In much the same way, aren’t we supposed to give up our rigid “religious” systems for a better way of living? A better way of following? Jesus invites us into the fluid and invigorating life of improvisation as we learn to relax our wills to His! There is no clear-cut “cookie-cutter” way to follow Jesus. We are all individual children and we all recognize our shepherd’s voice in different ways. What’s important is that we bring our own distinct personalities into the duet and learn how to not only die to ourselves but learn to be like Jesus! As the song of our lives comes to a close, it should be more and more difficult to separate our voices (our wills) from the sweet melody of the master!
It’s possible to sing a duet and still be a follower. Just take a listen…you’ll see!