Rich Mullins' Life & Legacy
Rich Mullins was among the most influential Christian musical artists in the 80s and 90s. His songs Awesome God and Step by Step were staples in the early 90s for worship bands in churches with "contemporary" worship services.
His songs have been recorded by artists like Amy Grant, Caedmon's Call, Jars of Clay, and others.
After spending years at the pinnacle of success as a popular Christian artist, Mullins became fed up with the Christian music industry and evangelical Christianity.
He moved to a Navajo reservation to teach music to kids and to work on projects near and dear to his heart like his collaboration with like-minded artists in the Ragamuffin Band.
Someone asked him if he moved to the reservation to proselytize the Navajo, and Mullins emphatically told them he wasn't. In fact, he said that he was hoping to find Jesus there among them.
Mullins was tragically killed in 1997 in a car accident on the way to a benefit concert with his friend and musical partner Mitch McVicker. Both were thrown from the vehicle, but only McVicker survived.
Many years ago, my mother bought me a copy of a collection of Mullins' writings, The World As I Remember It: Through The Eyes of A Ragamuffin.
Reading Mullin's thoughts on life and faith affected the trajectory of my spiritual journey. It was one of the first books of many that would follow that caused me to want to dig deeper into what following Jesus ought to be about.
I recently read a quote from Rich Mullins that made my heart sing. It was something that he would say at every concert he played in the latter part of his career:
"God notices you. The fact is he can't take his eyes off of you. However badly you think of yourself, God is crazy about you.
God is in love with you. ... Some of us even fear that someday we'll do something so bad that he won't notice us anymore.
Well, let me tell you, God loves you completely. And he knew us at our worst before he ever began to love us at all. And in the love of God there are no degrees, there is only love."
Many of Mullins' closest friends believed that he was gay and that it wasn't until the end of his life that he really came to terms with his identity as a Christian and a member of the LGBTQ community.
This explains why he left the Christian music scene and Evangelicalism when he did. And while he never officially came out, it was evident to his closest friends that he had found peace.
And it also makes his speech at the end of his concerts both poignant and powerful.
In a time in Christian culture when the chance of his being accepted as he was and bearing the scars of the conflicts he'd faced in his own heart, Mullins believed that he was loved by God, and everybody else.
May you and I find peace knowing that we are loved completely by a God who knows who we are and loves us anyway.
May we discover that, in the end, there is only love.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with us all, now and forever. Amen.