A Modest and Loving Correction for Bono
I'll never forget the experience of buying my first music CD in Middle School when I was 13 years old. I went with my mom to the Capital City Mall in Camp Hill, PA and I was more excited than usual since I had recently become the owner of a real, genuine portable CD player! Once we got to the mall, Mom went her way and I went mine - straight to The Wall (later it became FYE). Some of you may remember this little tape and CD store that used to be near the old food court. They were probably best known for their "Lifetime Music Guarantee" program for customers (remember those blue stickers on the CD cases?!)
But I digress! I wandered through the store for what seemed like a really long time before finally discovering the U2 section. I had heard a bunch of songs by the Irish band who, by that point, were already pretty legendary. I don't remember exactly what interested me in particular about it, but I settled on "Achtung Baby", the band's seventh studio album released through Island Records in 1991. I bought the CD, met up with my mom, and popped it in to the CD player the first chance I got.
Within a few days, I was a dyed-in-the-wool U2 fan and I have been ever since, a reality that culminated in a trip to Baltimore in June 2011 for their 360° Tour. There has always been something special about them for me, and a particular quality about much of their music I can only describe as transcendent. As the years went by, I came to learn a lot more about U2 and the individual members' backgrounds, views, and the like. Bono's devout Christian faith is well known to all, and the more I listened to U2 the more I could detect this influence in many of the lyrics Bono has composed over the decades.
Die hard fan that I am, though, lately I've been stuck like a skipping record on a particular lyric from one of my favorite songs with which I must adamantly disagree. In the song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" on "The Joshua Tree" album from 1987, Bono sings:
I believe in the Kingdom Come,
Then all the colors will bleed into one
But here's the thing. No, they won't. The colors will most definitely not "bleed into one" in heaven. Heaven is not the experience of individual drops of water diffusing back into the divine ocean. It is not a leveling off, a subsiding experience in which we all kind of fade into oblivion or become a hazy or bland shade of beige. God is, after all, the One behind our differences. He gives the rainbow to Noah and his family after the flood as the great sign of His covenant fidelity. We see rich and beautiful diversity all around us all the time. There aren't just millions and millions of one kind of tree throughout the world, as impressive as that would be. There are countless kinds of trees as well. The world isn't just filled with a huge number of blue jays or salmon or grizzly bears, but scores of different kinds of birds, fish, and bears.
To be fair, I'm not suggesting that Bono was trying to make a deeply profound theological statement with this lyric and I deeply respect and admire his faith and his witness. But I do think that this wording tends to reflect a very common and very mistaken view about the ultimate "telos" or end goal of our human experience. God doesn't undo what He's made. He loves you infinitely and He made you to be YOU, not me. You are His cherished son or daughter and He loves you as though you're the only one He ever made. He'll never stop pouring His infinite love into every nook and cranny of who you are - your personality, your physical appearance, your talents, your dreams. You and I are like panes in a stained glass window. Every little contour, shade, and angle is meant to express Him and His glory in a way that will never happen quite the same way in the life of any other person in history. Think about that! Reflect on that amazing truth today and, most importantly, ask Him to help you to shine and magnify His light through you today in precisely the way He wills. It will utterly transform your whole existence.