One of the bands that enjoyed their pinnacle in the 1990's was Pearl Jam. Their front man Eddie Vedder was known for his sometimes indiscernible lyrics and unpredictable antics on stage, yet no one could doubt his intensity and energy. Pearl Jam was a poster child of the "grunge" genre and many found an outlet in their aggressive style and anti-establishment mystique.
Not all of Vedder's lyrics were hard to discern. One song in particular, "I Am Mine" from Pearl Jam's album "Riot Act", describes a worldview that describes a train of thought that is growing well into this century. Here are the words of the first few verses:
The selfish they're all standing in line...
Faith in their hope and to buy themselves time.
Me, I figure as each breath goes by,
I only own my mind.
The north is to south what the clock is to time.
There's east and there's west and there everywhere life.
I know that I was born and I know that I'll die.
The in between is mine. I am mine.
I am mine. I am in control of me. There is no one or nothing else that I am accountable to or for. It's all up to me. If I make it, it's because I've done it on my own. If I fail, well, that's life. The only thing that I know for certain is that I was born and that I'll die. I am mine.
Those words cause me to shudder. If music is the expression of the soul then this song is an anthem to the despair and hopelessness that so many in our culture feel about life. Is this life really all that there is? If that's the case then whatever happens is completely up to me. This view assumes that there is no God, no reason beyond what we can experience or see for our very existence. What a depressing view of our universe.
Am I casting stones at Eddie Vedder? No way. I'd love to meet the guy and hang out with him and hear his heart. Maybe he's changed or maybe he's slipped deeper into those ideas. Either way, I'd find it a fascinating and challenging conversation.
What bothers me most about this worldview is that, while it is so antithetical to the theistic worldview we have in Jesus, many followers of Christ seem to live more by Vedder's creed than they do the teachings of Christ. We live as if this world belongs to us, as if our decisions are all ours, and as if what we do here on earth has no eternal consequences. Yet we know that we don't belong to ourselves. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that we are not our own. We belong to God and He sacrificed His son to make sure that our eternal destiny was secure. The gospel gives us hope and definition. Therefore we live for God's glory and not to satisfy our own desires.
Seem a bit stuffy for you? Then consider this: Live like you want and die as you wish. Hope that if this life is all that there is then you've lived it in a way that will make you satisfied, because no one else truly cares. Or you can embrace the hope of the gospel. Jesus bled and died not to start a movement but to fulfill a promise from God that you are worth saving from your sins because you have tremendous significance to Him. You are not yours but rather you belong to Him.