Updated: Feb 10, 2018
Photo taken from Daniel Hazard at http://u2start.com/photos/view/29157/
Over the past year or so, I have been fascinated by the story of U2, one of the greatest rock-n-roll bands of all time. What's fascinated me most is not their unique sound, the bravado of Bono, the coolness of The Edge and Larry Mullen, or the absolutely simple but insanely profound bass licks laid down by Adam Clayton. I'm most impressed by the Christian testimony of this band. Yes, I said "Christian testimony"! Most people don't know, but Bono, The Edge, and Larry Mullen are rather devout Christians. Bono and The Edge are even on public record proclaiming the Good News of the gospel. Bono has clearly articulated the person and work of Jesus Christ in several interviews, and The Edge and Larry Mullen even stepped away from the band at one point because they wanted to be sure they were giving their lives to the work of the Lord. In fact, the entire band went through a crisis of faith early in its formation, and if it hadn't been for a record contract, they would have probably split to pursue more traditional Christian work. But it was during this time that Bono and his mates realized that God wanted them to use their music to speak to the human condition--to meet people where they are--in all of their despair and hurt--and to provide some hope.
Notwithstanding those who will respond that being in a rock-n-roll band is no way to serve God, there is a lot of evidence to support U2's Christian rootedness. In addition to what has already been mentioned, Bono is an avid human rights worker, spending a great deal of his time and money to end world hunger. The band has also written countless faith-based songs, one of which is a personal favorite of mine: "Pride (In the Name of Love)." Although on its face a song about Martin Luther King, Jr., the references to Christ are unmistakable: "One man come in the name of love," "One man come he to justify," and "One man betrayed with a kiss." But, of course, there are more overt Christian songs in the band's repertoire, to include "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (some say this line is a reference to Philippians 3:7-14), "Gloria," "Yahweh," "Grace," "October," and "40" (a song rooted in Psalm 40). And if all of this weren't enough, Bono even partnered with theologian Dr. Eugene Peterson to promote the latter's 2002 translation of the Bible, The Message. Say what you will, but U2 is not ashamed of the Christian faith or putting their name out there in support of it.
Now, does this prove that these rock-n-rollers are Christians? No, it certainly does not. But what it demonstrates to me is the truth of a cliche my mom and dad used on me countless times growing up: "Don't judge a book by its cover." When I look at Bono with his colored glasses and leather jacket, The Edge with his skull cap and loafers, and Larry with his spiked hair and chill attitude, my first thought is not "These guys must the sold out for the Lord!" Yet, when I step back and listen to what they say and when I observe the work they do, I cannot help but experience a two-fold conviction. First, I am convicted of my sometimes judgmental attitude. Maybe these men truly are God's men doing God's work. Who am I to say? From the looks of it, they certainly are! But I'm also convicted personally. I ask myself, "What have you done for the Lord lately?" This is a more profound question because it turns the finger of judgment directly on me, and I am forced to examine my own book cover. And, truthfully, mine looks a little dusty at times. It's indeed torn and tattered.