The Doobie Brothers were a little bit before my time, but I always did like good music, and I wasn't a "current or nothing" snob; some really good music was written before I was old enough to notice, or even before I was born. The Doobies were a rock band whose members were Christians. Now, compare two of the Doobies' songs: "Jesus is Just Alright" and "South City Midnight Lady". On the surface, "Jesus is Just Alright" is the more Christian song. It's about Jesus. But it's awfully defensive in posture and awfully lukewarm in its witness to Christ (much like some of the current responses to the militant atheists, but I'm getting ahead of myself).
"South City Midnight Lady" is about a drifter and a prostitute. It's also a beautiful and powerful song with a theme of redemption. The song paints a picture of the drifter in the middle of another hopeless night at the end of another hopeless day.
Up all night, I could not sleepHe looks over at the hired company for the evening, a prostitute -- and sees that she has fallen asleep. And all the sudden his hopelessness fades away as his heart begins to care for another human being. He has a tender moment that changes everything in his eyes:
The whiskey that I drank was cheap
With shaking hands I went and I lit up my last cigarette.
I saw you sleepy-dreamin' there all covered and warm.I would contend that "South City Midnight Lady" is a more deeply and profoundly Christian song than "Jesus is Just Alright", because Christianity is at its strongest when things are hopeless, and our message for humanity's despair is that God's love is deeper. There is no situation so hopeless as to be beyond redemption.
South City Midnight Lady
I'm much obliged indeed
You sure did save this man whose soul was in need
I thought there was no reason
For all these things I do
But the smile that I sent out returned with you.
God has stacked the deck: all good comes from him. So whenever anyone reaches out for good, they are reaching toward God whether they know it or not. God has woven his love into the fabric of all human relationships, woven his goodness into the fabric of the universe. From Satan's viewpoint, even the most desperate and debased of human relationships (like a drifter and a hooker) is in constant danger that someone will succumb to humanity as it was meant to be and actually love each other.
It's like the classic Christian philosophers said: all evil is a corruption of good. The devil is on borrowed territory. All his best weapons are precarious ones, always just an inch away from being redeemed.
I'm not saying I know the future of the new atheists. I'm not saying I know whether religious freedom will last or whether it will be taken away in the blink of an eye. I'm saying there are constants in the world just because God made it, and that one of these is that all good comes from him, therefore he will never be entirely lost or forgotten. And therefore the enemy plays only with borrowed capital, constantly at risk that someone will look up and see the good and see its source.