Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2 (NRSV)
The first thing Jon Batiste did when he got to Juilliard was form a band. Maybe not that surprising for a music student. Except that the band he formed was a world away from the pomp and pressure of that prestigious institution.
They played in the subway. For free. These world-class musicians. And Batiste, the genius multi-instrumentalist and composer who has gone on to win 5 Grammys, chose as his instrument, a toy melodica. A cheap plastic thing he would blow into and play one-handed while dancing down train cars.
In the documentary about him, American Symphony, Batiste said, “What we were trying to do was stay human.”
All day, every day we interact with systems and institutions that try to take away our humanity.
That tell us our time is money. That our spirit is a brand. That encourage us to interact with machines as if they were people and people as if they were machines. That disconnect us. From ourselves and each other.
And when we’re in them it is hard to discern what is good and acceptable (let alone perfect).
To know what God wants from us, our minds must be renewed, reconnected to their source and purpose. But how?
We could start with Batiste’s recipe: Play. Dance. Make something beautiful and give it away. Find others to join you. Do something a world away from what’s expected.
Stay human. Just the way God made you.
[As your prayer, take a 60-second dance break wherever you are.]
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.