Devotion, Carnatic Music and the Christian perspective

Last night I attended a South Indian "Carnatic" music concert at UNCG. Besides being blown away at the musicianship of these three, humble musicians (a flutist, violinist & percussionist), I came away challenged and edified spiritually. Though these musicians are Hindu and I myself am Christian, watching the beauty of their devotion caused me to desire a greater devotion in my own faith.

One of the beauties (and challenges) of the Christian faith is that we are given complete freedom to choose or not choose devotion to God. Our standing before Him is birthed from the Grace given to us through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is not the result of human effort. Therefore to some, it would seem temptation and half heartedness are more accessible for Christians than devotees of other religions. While that may be true, the opposite is also true. Deeper intimacy, fuller comprehension of the true nature of God and reciprocal relationship are also more readily available to Christians as well. God seemed to think the risk was worth taking. That risk allows Christian devotion to spring from intimacy and love, not rigorous ritual and law.

In short, my experience last night awakened this in me. Rather than fearfully judging those of other faiths (and I can almost hear the suspicious shouts of "Universalist!" even as I dare suggest this) we can learn a lot to learn from those of other faiths who have yet to encounter the reality and love of Jesus. I cannot tell you how often I have been provoked to a holy jealousy by the beauty of devotion I've witnessed in people of other persuasions. You can recognize a beauty of a particular devotion without personally adhering to the object of that devotion.

If I may suggest without any hint of accusation or bitterness, we as Christians, have spent much resource "evangelizing" the world, when to a large degree, it has amounted to making enemies and picking fights. When I witnessed the beauty and devotion of these Hindu musicians, I realized something. Jesus said, ""By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:35 They expressed the truth of their lives without ever trying to convince me.

I believe the non Christian world will be more compelled to learn of the Christian faith and ultimately to know Him personally once they've witnessed the radiant beauty of our true devotion and love.

Thank you Shantala Subramanyam, Avaneeswaram Vinu, and Melakkaveri Balaji for leading me to a greater desire for deeper devotion and love to my God, friend and companion, Jesus and to Melakkaveri for reigniting desire toward the percussion as a calling and invitation from God.