I have to confess that one of my favorite radio stations on Pandora is Guns N Roses. While I skip most of the other bands that come on that station like Aerosmith, it is still worth it just to hear Slash’s guitar solos. Not too many lead guitarists really make the band what it is (normally it’s the lead singer), but I think Slash adds almost enough to the band as does the enigmatic and unique lead singer Axl Rose.
So not too long ago, I picked up Slash’s self titled autobiography. It is not one I’d necessarily recommend to others, and it is sad to read about how nonchalantly he includes his drug use and incessant shoplifting as though it’s humorous. I wouldn’t call him a good writer either. Yet it is enjoyable as a story, and surely inspirational to see how much work, dedication, and risk it took for him to make it big.
What I have found most redemptive thus far in the book was Slash’s immediate love for the guitar. In fact, he used to spend all of his waking moments on his B.M.X. bike. But as soon as his eyes and ears were opened to the sounds a real guitarist could make, he immediately fell in love. He had to play. He wanted it for himself. So he started with an old guitar in the garage with 5 missing strings.
He was hooked immediately, and could find no room for another passion. His old love for B.M.X. bike riding didn’t fade away; it disappeared like a bowl of Chex Mix in my presence. He told his old bike riding buddies, “I’m a guitar player now.” That was that. He never saw them again. One passion had simply been replaced by a greater passion.
Strangely enough Slash, and Puritan Thomas Chalmers, would have had some common ground. The latter argued that the best way to deal with sin, is not simply to try to stop sinning, but by the “expulsive power of a new affection.” You deal with the affection behind the sin, by replacing it with a greater affection for Jesus.
So in other words, if you want to deal with jealousy or anger, (two of my personal sin struggles), you don’t get to where you want to go by memorizing verses that tell you “Don’t be jealous” or “don’t get too angry.” Memorizing verses is good, helping move us to repentance, and giving us direction for living and loving. What they don’t do is deal with the how. That’s what Chalmers and Slash can teach us.
Once I identify why I’m jealous (because I want the fame that belongs to another who is bigger/better), or why I’m overly angry (something I feel I deserve has been blocked/taken from me), then I can move on to Jesus. Is there not more fame in the recognition that I’ve been chosen from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4)? Do I not receive that which I don’t deserve (status) and have that which I do deserve (punishment) put on Someone else?
Let’s face it. The problem isn’t worship or passion. We all have have passion and we all worship, even if that passion expresses itself in laziness or worship expresses itself in sports, recreation, or sleeping in. Paul’s prayer to the Ephesian church was not for their growth in factual trivia type knowledge but for the “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” That “fills” you up and consumes you.
Ephesians 317 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
After three chapters of being amazed by God’s grace, THEN Paul issues commands in the fourth. How do we begin to see victory over selfishness? Paul, Chalmers, and Slash would all agree. Come into contact with Someone more amazing, more lovely, more worth your time.
How? Discipline yourself to be regular in Sunday worship, regular in prayer, regular in fellowship, regularly in His Word, regularly involved in His mission, ANTICIPATING and LOOKING for Jesus. May we have the same response to Jesus that Slash had to the guitar.