Thousands Make a Wretched Choice

Last week I read several blog posts about the Washington Post’s experiment with Joshua Bell. One of the world’s greatest violinists, playing some of the world’s greatest music, on one of the world’s greatest violins? In a Metro station? Only to be ignored? I thought it was clever, amusing, telling.

Later, I was intrigued by Andy Naselli’s perspective, along with Josh Harris’. Both compare Bell’s musical performance to Christ’s offer of salvation that is neglected by an oblivious world. I got their point, but I didn’t take time to read the full Post article myself. Well, over the weekend I took an hour to read the article, listen to the audio recording, and watch the video clips. Mercy. Find some time and a high-speed connection to do so yourself.

The comparison of 1000-plus people ignoring Bell to mankind’s neglect of Christ’s majesty and His offer of free salvation is compelling, even heartbreaking. Thinking of the biblical parallel, I was moved, especially by the time-condensed video sections, to see so many rush on, unaware of what they were missing. Certainly, many were more distracted than intentionally disrespectful, but that too has a strong parallel in the spiritual realm. I was grateful for the few who stopped, even as others bustled by them. Again, what a fitting picture of the elect, the few who find the narrow way and are arrested by what others ignore. When I read at the end of the article of Picarello’s being stopped in his tracks by what he heard, humbly listening, and offering an insufficient but respectful gift, I was actually moved to tears.

To be honest, I feel a bit silly to have reacted so strongly. But it is indeed a powerful illustration of mankind’s tragic rejection of gospel truth. It makes me think of Watts’ How Sweet and Awesome:

Why was I made to hear Thy voice, and enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice, and rather starve than come?

‘Twas the same love that spread the feast that sweetly drew us in,
Else we had still refused to come, and perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God! Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad, and bring the strangers home.


4 Responses

  1. Thanks for pointing out that hymn. Speaking of pity, that’s what it is that so few in-print hymnals publish it. Score one for the Trinity Hymnal (though it’s under the title “How Sweet and Awful Is the Place.”

  2. Hey, Ben. It’s become my favorite hymn, I think. We sing it often and recently introduced it to several other fundamental churches at our combined Good Friday service. Wonderful.

    There’s a nice instrumental recording of it by the Mulfinger String Quartet. The CD is available here, or the single (“The Church of Christ”) here.

  3. This was the first hymn I taught our congregation when I got to Rockford. It has become our favorite; almost our official church hymn — especially with the final two stanzas.

    Of course, I did Watts justice and kept it intact — “How Sweet and Awful”! :)

  4. […] music, on one of the world’s greatest violins? In a Metro station? Only to be ignored?” See here.Posted on 25 Apr, 2007Permalink | CommentsWho Needs Exegesis… Part FourKevin Bauder’s fourth […]

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