taking the words of Jesus seriously

From a very young age music has played a major role in my spiritual development. To be honest, singing the texts to great hymns enabled me to form a personal connection with God in a way that reading Scripture never could. For some of us, even reading something that’s God inspired can sometimes feel like nothing more than an intellectual exercise but somehow music has the ability to write the words on our hearts, and it can move us in inexplicable ways.

For the past couple of weeks a very different kind of music has been stuck in my head. It’s a song titled Bold As Love by Jimi Hendrix. Written in 1967 and capably covered by John Mayer in 2006 (Mayer’s a big Hendrix fan and actually includes a cover of one of his songs in every concert) Bold As Love is one of those songs that walks a fine line between the secular and the spiritual. Hendrix historian Harry Shapiro described it as, “An Olympian battle of passions whose strategy is mapped out in colors” and added, “The conclusion has to be that love comes in many hues. Love is hard work and to get properly involved takes commitment and courage”. I think it could be about romantic love or a broader, unconditional agape love. Either way, love is constantly being pushed and pulled by a myriad of human emotions. It is an invisible, indefinable force that we can never truly understand and ultimately have to attribute to a supreme being. Hendrix doesn’t call that entity God, with all the religious baggage that comes with that name. He simply refers to it as the axis.

Related: The Worship Wars – by Tony Campolo

But perhaps I’m being one of those annoying people who overanalyzes everything and finds meaning where it doesn’t exist. See what you think.

Anger, he smiles,
Towering in shiny metallic purple armor.
Queen Jealousy, envy waits behind him,
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground.
Blue are the life giving waters taken for granted,
They quietly understand.
Once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready
But wonder why the fight is on.

But they’re all bold as love.
They’re all bold as love.
They’re all bold as love.
Just ask the axis.

My red is so confident he flashes trophies of war
And ribbons of euphoria.
Orange is young and full of daring
But very unsteady for the first go round.
My yellow in this case is not so mellow,
In fact I’m trying to say it’s frightened like me.
And all these emotions of mine keep holding me from
Giving my life to a rainbow like you.

But I’m bold as love.
I’m bold, bold as love.
I’m bold as love.
Just ask the axis.
He knows everything.

What about the man behind the music?

James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix died only a few years after the release of Bold As Love and is a member of the 27 Club. That’s the elite group of rock icons who all died at the age of twenty-seven. Other members include Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described him as “Arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock and roll” and Rolling Stone Magazine recently rated him as “The greatest guitar player of all time”. But there was much more to Hendrix than just his ability to play guitar well. Greatly influenced by the music of Bob Dylan, he seemed to possess unlimited creativity (sometimes attributed to drug use) and a gentle spirit that shone through his music and lyrics. Despite his undeniably cocky stage presence and legendary showmanship he was an extremely humble, soft-spoken person off stage who possessed a multifaceted personality painted with all the colors of this song.

Also by Stephen: 15 Women of Peace

I think the world needs more people who are able to break through their anger, jealousy, fear and other paralyzing emotions to put their trust in the greatest power in the universe…love. If you don’t agree with me, just ask the axis. He knows everything.

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