Jazz, Veterans Day, and the Common Grace of God


Last week Cheryl and I went to one of our favorite spots for a date: Andy’s Jazz Club in Chicago. Listening to jazz performed live is like watching a painter begin to express what she sees with her eyes; there are rules of color mixture, shades and shadowing, positive and negative light, but the artist is also interpreting and experimenting as brush touches canvass. Likewise with jazz artists. As R. C. Sproul reflects on God’s character demonstrated through jazz:

“Jazz contains improvisation, but improvisation is not chaos. These musicians obey the numerical relationships between tones that establish music. Their impromptu riffs only work because they follow the protocols of rhythm and harmony. Jazz virtuosos spontaneously increase the complexity of a piece as written while maintaining the rules of their craft.”

Spoken like a true theologian who understands the common grace of God. Common, because God is so good to bless Christ-rejectors with amazing skill at the piano, drum-set, guitar, and saxophone: The sun shines on the just and the unjust as it also rains on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). Common grace, because God gives to all men, life, breath, and everything good that pertains to humanity (Acts 17:25). Common, because God is impartial to ethnicity, creed, class, caste, and credential. Common, because God is un-obligated and un-beholding to anyone – he does not have to be so kind and generous to anyone.

Today is Veterans Day – and this day too is owing to God’s common grace. The fact that so many can enjoy this day in relative freedom while not giving thanks to God for sending his Son to die for their sins is proof of God’s abundant mercies. It is a tragedy of sacrifice to enjoy the freedoms of this country and yet remain unthankful with contempt towards our democracy, our constitution, and our soldiers; Alec Baldwin and everyone else who spurns the Common Grace of God for the freedoms we enjoy really should turn in their citizenship and move wherever they think they can enjoy better freedoms. But what is a more grievous tragedy of sacrifice is to enjoy ANYTHING, and yet spurn the sacrifice of Christ on a horrific cross. If Christ had not died upon the cross there would not be a single, relaxing, pleasurable moment experienced anywhere by anyone for any reason. You think War is Hell? A Christ-less, Cross-less World History would be Hell for everyone immediately, for then there would be no covenant and no over-arching (think: God’s Covenant to Noah to not destroy the earth, signified by a rainbow) common grace to hold back the wrath.

O the Common Grace of God to give us so many things to be thankful for. Today, I am thankful for so many proofs of God’s long-suffering to so many insufferable people – including me. Aren’t you?

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