So I was born in the 80’s. 1985 to be exact. My musical mentors were Van Halen, The Talking Heads, James Taylor, Phil Collins, and Peter Gabriel to name a few. Not a bad line up if you ask me. I remember listening to this called “Big Time” that Peter Gabriel released in 1986 with a knot in my stomach. Something felt off about it. The lyrics weren’t right. The song was essentially this rhythmic synth-pop smash about greed, prestige, and materialism as Peter brags about the increase of his status and fame around the world! Of course as I grew up I also learned about the use of irony and satire as a powerful tool in communication and messaging. Then the other day I heard “Big Time” on the radio again, and over the synthetic sounds of loud kicks and keyboards I started tearing up...
I'm on my way, I'm making it,
I’ve got to make it show, yeah
So much larger than life, I’m going to watch it growing
The place where I come from is a small town
They think so small, They use small words
But not me, I’m smarter than that
I worked it out, I’ve been stretching my mouth
To let those big words come right out
I've had enough, I'm getting out
To the city, the big big city
I'll be a big noise with all the big boys
There's so much stuff I will own
And I will pray to a big god
As I kneel in the big church
Big time, I’m on my way-I'm making it
Big time, I’ve got to make it show yeah
Big time, I’m so much larger than life
Big time, I’m going to watch it growing
My parties all have big names
And I greet them with the widest smile
Tell them how my life is one big adventure
And always they're amazed
When I show them round my house, to my bed
I had it made like a mountain range
With a snow-white pillow for my big fat head
And my heaven will be a big heaven
And I will walk through the front door
My car is getting bigger
My house is getting bigger
My eyes are getting bigger
And my mouth
My belly is getting bigger
And my bank account
Look at my circumstance
Conviction does not suffice the way I felt in that moment in the car. It was spiritual. I realized in my heart that there was an deep reservoir reserved exclusively for making it Big Time.
As I look at my generation I see a millions of individuals, including Christians, obsessed with making it Big Time. Yet the irony that Peter Gabriel says (without ever needing to say it) is that materialism, fame, and earthly success only leads to slavery. Perhaps the greatest satire of our time is that we culturally are searching for freedom in the very things that enslave us spiritually. We believe in success and fame so much that nearly every single thing we do has a fixed growth monitor attached to it.
If I can get enough likes, if I can get enough followers, if I can get that next thing, if I can buy that next house, if I can earn just a little bit more, be a little more spiritual, climb a little bit higher - then maybe I’ll find real freedom.
Scripture give us another way. In 2 Corinthians 3:17 Paul tells the Church in Corinth, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” That means we have spiritual way out from the messages of culture. In this moment, we have the opportunity to find contentment, freedom, and peace from the soundbites that tell us otherwise. There’s freedom not only from materialism and earthly fame and success, but from depression, addiction, self-harm, hatred, anger, bitterness. Galatians 5 marks the path to freedom so vividly…. (taken from The Message)
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.… My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
…It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on…”
You don’t need me to tell you that life outside the freedom of the Holy Spirit only brings an immense amount of disappointment and emptiness. On your own path toward finding freedom, I want to encourage you - it’s never too late. It’s never too late to step out of the running after the Big Time, and run into the wile open spaces of freedom.