In a way, this record represents, for me, a self-imposed eviction notice from a religious community that is unfit to live in. I am packing up my things. I will gather my questions, my opinions, my mistakes and confessions and start walking in search of….
Daniel Haseltine, lead vocalist Jars of Clay
Those are sad, hard words from an artist who was nurtured and popularized by the religious community he cannot find a place within. Yet in the midst of those words, there is a glorious right-ness about his movement. In his blog piece explanation about his ‘self-imposed’ eviction, Haseltine explains his weariness of pretending to be more than he is. Never does God desire for us to be pretenders. Integrity…honesty about who we are and who God is…must beat from every cell in our body. The discordant sounds of hypocrisy destroy us and others. A deep desire for honesty and transparency is a reflection of the very image of God—and Haseltine reflects that portion of God magnificently.
Surely the weights put upon him by fame—and a world craving that honesty—are God-ordained weights that will help him and those who follow him to know that aspect of God more fully. Haseltine is not the first person to be placed in a role that left them searching for a place. In the Old Testament, Sarai dragged Hagar into her plans to ‘help God out.’ Plans rooted in unbelief always deteriorate, and Hagar found herself on the run. God was ahead of her, and she became one who received a new revelation about God. You can read her whole story here, The God Who Sees. Perhaps soon, Jars of Clay will have a new revelation of God to share with faithful followers who share his dismay with shallow religion.
Jesus never intended for us to varnish our hopes with trite phrases, but evangelicalism is not ‘a tiny sliver of the entire pie’ or ‘crumbs under the table’ as Haseltine proclaimed. The essence of the gospel is the doctrine of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ’s atoning work. We have nothing of our own to bring to the Father; when we think we do—or when others begin to think we do—dismay follows until humility arrives. The Canaanite mother in scripture who begged healing for her daughter reminds us the treasure of salvation—and the power of ‘crumbs.’
And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once. Matthew 15:26-28
Jars of Clay is a band that has explored truth for decades. Jesus Christ is Truth. As Haseltine said, “God could have kept us from asking good questions.” But God has never wanted to silence good questions or receive unrealistic, sentimental songs. God is confident of the power of Truth…and we can be too. Unrealistic faith is useless, so Haseltine’s eviction has positive potential. I invite you to pray with me for his journey to the heart of God…that it will be a journey beyond personal experiences and biases…that it will be a journey guided by the truth of the Word and powered by the Spirit…that it will be a journey that brings fresh vision to the whole Body of Christ.