When I practiced medicine in Pohnpei, Micronesia, I became friends with my Burmese neighbor. He was a specialist in making prosthetics and in his spare time, he played keyboards and sang for a pop band in Burma. During his stay in Micronesia, he pursued his music and brought a portable electronic keyboard. It was the type of keyboard that sampled a variety of sounds such as an organ, trumpet, stringed instruments as well as providing a rhythm sections with drums and a bass. With his added voice, he was a one man band.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, he would practice and the melodies filled the apartment complex. It became a favorite pastime of the neighborhood children to gather outside his door and sing along. One of his favorite songs had a familiar melody which he sang in Burmese. One day, he asked me, “Do you know this song? It is a very famous American song!”
“I know!” I nodded. “The melody sounds so familiar but you sing it in Burmese. What is the title in English?”
“I don’t know!” He laughed. “We just play it and everyone loves it!”
“So what is the song about?”
“It’s about these guys hanging out on a corner and they are singing and they are trying to pick up girls! It’s really funny!”
I nodded. “I’m sure it is.” I kept replaying the melody in my mind. “Man, it sounds so familiar!”
“It’s very popular! I’m surprised you don’t know it!”
After my two month clinical rotation in Pohnpei, I returned to Hawaii. A few months later I was listening to my car radio and there it was! The unmistakable guitar riff and drum beat. “Down on the Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival! A classic rock song! It was the same tune that my Burmese friend played and sang. I didn’t recognize it because, not only was it done in a different language, his rhythm and feel were completely different from the original recording. As my head bounced along to the driving beat of the familiar tune, warm memories of my friend embraced me as I smiled and fondly remembered his unique and entertaining interpretation of the song.
Familiar themes imaginatively reinvented may seem elusive upon first encounter. My friend had uniquely interpreted a classic song and brought forth a fresh performance. It was the same song, just presented in a new light.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)
God’s Word is unchanging because God is unchanging. It is the presentation of the Good News that changes as it is presented to billions of people around the world, transcending languages, cultures, and political ideologies. Jesus Christ is the Master of breaking down all barriers. From befriending foreigners, adulterers, thieves, murderers, politicians, lawyers, rich and poor-Jesus spoke to all with an uncompromising message. All need to confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. His mastery was presenting the same message and personalizing it for each encounter.
Unique interpretations of the same message. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.