Billy Joel and the Glory of God

piano keys

Two Fridays ago, my friend Scott took me to see Billy Joel, one of my all-time favorite songwriters.

The Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh is packed with thousands of excited fans. The crowd begins cheering as the Arena lights dim. For a few minutes we sit in darkness as shadowy musicians move about on stage. Suddenly lights flood the stage and in the center Billy Joel is bent over his grand piano pounding out the unforgettable staccato intro to ?Angry Young Man.? ?I can?t believe I?m seeing this!? I shout to a smiling Scott.

Hold it ? don?t call the Christian music police on me. I know Billy?s not a Christian. And he?s got a few songs I don?t listen to. But I can praise God for him.? Why? Because he?s fulfilling Psalm 8:

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands (PS 8.5-6)

God has crowned human beings (even non-Christians) with glory and honor by giving them dominion over creation. This means that God has granted us the ability to take the earth’s raw materials and make things out of them – skyscrapers and grand pianos and iPods, yarn and yogurt, bridges and basketballs. When Billy Joel writes a song, he?s unknowingly taking dominion over the creation.

I once heard Wayne Grudem say that if Adam came back today and saw our automobiles and washing machines and televisions he?d be amazed at what we?ve done with the earth and he?d praise God for giving humans such abilities.

In Psalm 8, as the writer contemplates the heavens, he?s amazed that God would care about us clods of dirt, and even more amazed that he would crown us with the talents to do such incredible things with his world. As the Psalmist contemplates man?s creativity he?s not amazed at humans, but at God:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (v9).

I can praise God for paintings by Monet and Van Gogh, though they were probably not Christians. I can worship him for Google and Gibson guitars and digital cameras and Teflon pans, and for the gifts he?s given Billy Joel. Because I?m not amazed at Billy. I?m amazed at God.

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.