Legacy of Keith Green

While it may seem strange to some people, I have a habit of listening to certain music at particular times of the year. One example of this odd behavior is my September listening. September is a month in which I break out music by the late Keith Green. To enhance my music experience this year I added No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green to my reading list. Most books expand my knowledge, but biographies expand my vision. No Compromise did not disappoint in this regard.

Younger Christians (and older Christians who did not grow up in the church) may not be familiar with the work of Keith Green. I find this unfortunate because Keith Green was so much more than a musician; he was more akin to a prophet. I do not throw that label around lightly. Keith Green did more than sing. His greatness as an artist lay in his message. He called out a generation of Christians who were living mediocre, trivial, and often sinful lives. He called them to forsake compromise and commit their true devotion to Christ. Three things stand out to me in Keith’s life.

First, Keith held nothing back from following Christ. He had an intense personality that saw things as only black and white. If his music is a guide to his thinking, we see a man who was willing to forsake everything for Jesus. No Compromise is the perfect title for the book because that is how Keith sang, wrote, preached, and lived his short life. His lyrics moved audiences to a deep, personal revival.

Second, Keith lived a life of humility. God provided him a platform to speak to His people and gave him a strong message. Yet, when mature Christian leaders corrected him on his approach, he accepted the guidance as from the Lord. Keith showed a deep understanding of our human tendencies toward pride. No Compromise gives several examples of Keith accepting correction from mature leaders especially regarding how he spoke of sin and compromise to his audience.

Third, Keith had a passion for evangelism. He was as comfortable sharing Christ with hitchhikers as he was in front of an audience of a thousand. He not only spoke about evangelism but he lived it. I have never heard any Christian music exclaim the need for personal evangelism like Keith Green’s music. For instance, “Asleep in the Light” moves my heart more than the most persuasive sermons on evangelism.

If you are not familiar with Keith Green’s music, I would challenge you to explore it. His music was timely, his message timeless. You may want to start with his more popular songs such as “Your Love Broke Through,” “You Put this Love in My Heart” or the “Easter Song.” You can also try some of Keith’s heavier songs like “The Sheep and the Goats” or “Asleep in the Light.” I have many favorites, including “Make my Life a Prayer to You”:

Make my life a prayer to You

I want to do what You want me to

No empty words and no white lies, no token prayers, no compromise 

-by Pastor Shawn Martin