Empire State of Mind study

I wrote this short Bible study (they call it re:tuned) about Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind" for Interlinc's most recent music magazine. (YLO 80) Here's a link to a pdf they sent out from the magazine, too!

Song: Empire State of Mind
Artist: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
Album: The Blueprint 3

Kirk Moore
Union Congregational United Church of Christ
Somonauk, IL

Teaching Point: Righteous indignation needs to be expressed sparingly, if ever at all.

Opening Questions: When do you feel the need to defend Jesus?

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys have teamed up in their performance of mega-hit “Empire State of Mind.” The song, a tribute to Jay-Z’s love of New York, contains a line that has caused controversy among Christians.

  • When Jay-Z raps “Jesus can’t save you. Life starts when the church ends.” What emotions do you feel? What do you want to do?
  • What circumstances would make a person feel like Jesus can’t save them?
  • What kind of “life start” is the singer talking about when the church ends?
  • What else can you think of that may be behind these lyrics?
Jesus came into the temple and he was angry. The people who acted as if they were religious had turned the temple into a den of thieves. Jesus turned over the tables and shouted against them. Read about it in these verses
  • Mark 11:15-17
  • Luke 19:45-46
Jesus directed his righteous indignation at folks who claimed to be religious leaders and followers. But Jesus words to people who were called sinners by the religious were different:
  • Luke 19:2-7
  • Mark 2:1-5
Conclusion: Jesus’ words of disdain were reserved for the religious ones who should have known better. Jesus words of restoration and unconditional love are for everyone – no exceptions. It’s probably best if we reserve the words of righteous indignation to Jesus and focus our faith journey on loving God and loving everyone.

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