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Paul Colman Interview Part II
It seemed fitting that the last time I spoke to Paul Colman he was ordering chicken Mcnuggets for his kids because in Part II of this two part series, our conversation centered about his views of fast food Christianity. Before I go any further Colman wants you to know, “I am part of the problem.”
He says the song "Last Night In America," which he penned with Randall Waller, speaks to the heart of the matter;
I’ve had a million conversations about“I love the people but I don’t love the culture,” says this articulate, scintillating guitarist with good looks. He is deeply troubled over the superficial pabulum that we are spoon feeding to new Christians and using to try and entice non-Christians into the sphere of Christianity. Colman says the problem arises from our tendency settle for something marginal instead of exploring a deeper relationship with Jesus.
From the voice of an artist who has achieved astounding worldwide success as much for his lyrics and his spine tingling guitar licks, come the words to "Nothing Without You;"
I gave my eyes to the mediaColman is the antithesis of mainstream music’s Bob Geldof; instead of being brash and in your face to persuade you to his point of view, he would rather charm you, debate you and love you into the kingdom of God. His words often cut deep but words on paper or a computer screen lack the ability to demonstrate the compassion in his voice or the sincerity of his face expressions.
This is a guy that you might imagine going through the grocery store ripping labels off of Heinz ketchup bottles because he has such disdain for labels. For instance, he would much prefer people think of him as a communicator than defining him merely as a musician or singer. He says the problem with the label "Christian" is that it traps us into the belief that we have to live up to the expectations that others place on us rather than allowing us to be defined by the manner in which we follow Jesus of Nazareth.
“When I have to think of myself as a Christian I have to concern myself with what a Christian guy eats, drinks, wears, thinks and doesn’t think. We need to concern ourselves more with getting back to Jesus and following him as opposed to worrying about being Christians.” Before the summer is over Colman will have toured Germany (twice), Holland and Norway and he finds it refreshing to perform in many European countries because the culture appears less concerned with legalism and more relaxed with their relationship with God.
He believes the moment we allow ourselves to become more caught up in the rules than the relationship we relegate ourselves to the pool of other world religions. Now we find ourselves trapped in conversations that debate the validity of different religious leaders. “I don’t want to talk about other religions. I want to talk about the only person worth following and that is Jesus,” he says.
As he relates an experience he had on an airplane recently you begin to understand what it means to be rid of stereotypes. He was sitting beside a Jewish lesbian who struck up a conversation with him and asked where he was from and what he did. He said Nashville and that he played music. Her immediate response was, ‘country or Christian?’
“I said to her if I say the word Christian we’re going to have the Wailing Wall between us. I don’t want that wall between you and me. Will you just accept the fact that I love God and I love you? I write songs about that. She said okay. I told her I am a passionate follower of Jesus of Nazareth and I know that creates issues between you and me but he was a Jew and I cannot feel anything but it is such a privilege to be here with you because you are a descendant of his and that puts you on a pedestal in my mind. I don’t want to patronize you but I honor you.”
“I just find words are very powerful. James talks about the power of the tongue,” he says.
Colman also has difficulty with people who define a Christian’s validity by the number of souls you are saving. “People get the impression if you are good with words, saving souls and picking fruit off the vine you are a valid Christian and if you are not then you are not really on fire. Evangelism is not a decision, it is a gift.”
I was in a church recently where they displayed words attributed to Francis Assisi, paraphrased they went something like this, ‘we are to present the gospel and sometimes it may be necessary to use words.’ Immediately I thought of Paul Colman, a man who says, “My life is my witness. When I walk in the door I am witnessing. My experience is that the minute I said I have decided to follow Jesus my life became a mission.” He wants you to know that you do not have to go to another country or the inner city to be on a mission from GodGod bless you if you do embark on a more traditional mission but let’s not leave out all those other people who have a ministry at their jobs, social circles and neighborhoods.
Jan O., who co-ordinates the artist bookings for the Cup O’ Joy in Green Bay, Wisconsin, says about Colman’s recent performance, “In the end the music was stellar. A solo performance with a guitar and a guy who sang his heart out--gave his all--held nothing back and then spoke with every person who wanted to meet him.” If you asked Colman how he would like to be remembered by fans he would probably echo many of those words.
I asked him if he had to pick one most important thing that he and his wife Rebecca could teach their two daughters and he replied, “If you love each other, your children will be secure. The only way we can love each other is by loving God first. My feeling is if I do that my children will know that they are loved.”
Paul Colman an overflowing vessel of God’s love.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.