Formative: Paul Hewson

I hate being cliche. I hate being stereotyped and pigeonholed. I prefer to be unexpected. I like it when people aren’t quite sure where I am coming from or what my opinion about something will be. I love minority reports, when someone goes against the conventional wisdom and sees things differently.

I tell you all of this because what I am about to say is unbelievably predictable.  

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Like so many other Christians of a certain age, I have been profoundly impacted in my thinking and beliefs about God and the world by an Irish theologian and artist named Paul Hewson.

You might know him better as Bono, lead singer of U2.

There is much to say about U2 in general and Bono in particular. I could talk about the band’s longevity. I could talk about how their concerts take on the feel of a worship gathering. I could talk about the spiritual dimensions of their songs, how they sing about so much more than sex and romance, and how that may have been the secret to their success. (Maybe we are not as shallow as we are often accused of being.)

 

Since this is Evangelism Week on my blog, I’d like to talk about how Bono has helped to make me a more globally-conscious person. And thereby, he has made me a better Christian.

Throughout his career, Bono has been an advocate for the world’s poor. From Band Aid in the 80s to the ongoing One Campaign, Bono has used his celebrity to give a voice to those who would otherwise be ignored. In fact, he has been an evangelist, seeking to convert the world’s privileged to the gospel of God’s kingdom.

Among the world’s most privileged are American Christians. We have needed to hear this gospel most. And Bono is the one who converted me.

formative bono

Slowly and over time, Bono has helped to shape how I see the world. He has helped me to realize that God is always found on the side of the oppressed. He has elevated the horrors of injustice in my consciousness. He has modeled for me what it means to be an influential leader in the cause of the kingdom.

 

When he sings Love and Peace or Else, I get it.

When he says, “As you enter this life, I pray you depart with a wrinkled face and a brand new heart,” I ache for all of the children who will never get to grow old.

When he rallies us with “The real battle just begun to claim the victory Jesus won,” I want to lend my voice and whole self to the cause.

When he admits, “I’m sick of hearing again and again that there’s gonna be peace on earth,” I am right there with him.

When he screams without raising his voice, “Jesus, Jesus help me / I’m alone in this world / And a fucked up world it is too / Tell me, tell me the story / The one about eternity / And the way it’s all gonna be,” I want to listen in on the conversation.

When over and over again he cries out, “How long?” I cry out with him.

How long will this injustice last? How long will the world remained unchanged? How long until God’s kingdom comes? How long? Those are the prayers I’ve learned to pray.

 

Check out the whole Formative blog series here.
And don’t miss this amazing interview with Bono.

 

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  • I can’t agree with you more, Robb! My car’s license plate says PTL 4 U2 (and nobody seems to get it – but I don’t care, I hate to be cliché, also).