“Might’ve [had sex with her], it was only lust.”
“I wake up every day with this anxiety.”
“Struggling just to find my peace.”
“I just want to fly, make it last before we die.”
Earlier this year, Austin Post (Post Malone) released his second studio album, Beerbongs & Bentleys. Before the album was even released it had skyrocketed to platinum status due to his incredibly popular singles “rockstar” and “Psycho” which broke Spotify records with over 1.6 billion streams.
Post is indeed one of the most successful artists of our time and the embodiment of the values and priorities of Generation Z: the students we serve in our ministries.
Yet – if his lyrics are any indication – despite his billions of streams, infinite fame, millions of followers, sold out shows, and seemingly endless supply of women and drugs, Post seems to be discontent with his life. In typical rap fashion, he praises jewelry, sex, booze, luxurious cars, power, money, and fame. Then on the flip side, he sings about doubt, fear, loneliness, anxiety, and the meaningless of life.
In his song “Paranoid,” Post says that he “wakes up every day with this anxiety.” He is “struggling just to find my [his] peace.” Though he has thousands of screaming fans each concert and millions of followers on social media, he says, “sometimes feel like I got no friends. Can’t trust a soul like I’m Snowden.”
In “Rich & Sad,” Post talks about the abundance of wealth and possessions he has. He sings, “Lookin’ at me now, covered in carats, mahogany cabinets, stable and stallions, massive medallions, I finally had it, but then you just vanished.” He ends the verse by singing, “All this stuntin’ couldn’t satisfy my soul. Got a hundred big places, but I’m still alone.” Post’s lyrics suggest he thought (like all of us at some point or another) that possessions, power, money, and fame would satisfy his soul and make those around him accept and approve of him. He even though it would make his girlfriend stay with him. Yet in the chorus, he sings, “I just keep on wishin’ that the money made you stay” alluding to the eventual breakup.
Later in the same song, Post builds on his loneliness by saying, “Buy me love, try to buy me love, Now I’m alone… In the spotlight, but I’m on my own… I don’t even wanna go home, in a big house all alone.” Post, like many before him, exemplifies the paradox of popularity and fame partnered with loneliness and depression.
In “Blame It On Me” he sings about the anxiety, depression, and rejection he feels. He says, “I used to say I was free. Now all these people wanna keep on takin’ pieces of me. They held me down, let me drown. They spit me out, right through the teeth…These hurricanes inside of my brain, let it rain. Tryna find my way, I nearly lost it though.”
How many of our youth resonate deeply with this? How many feel alone, rejected, abandoned, anxious, depressed, and without hope?
Where is the hope in the midst of these issues? What hope does our culture offer? What hope does Austin Post have?
If we listen to the end of his album, he sings, “I just want to fly, make it last before we die.”
“Make it last before we die.”
In more ways than one, Post’s album Beerbongs & Bentleys echoes themes we read all through Scripture. This album, in many ways, could be a 2018 version of the book of Ecclesiastes.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, the author collects the thoughts of an older man (teacher) who is reflecting back on life. This teacher’s perspective is exactly like the one we hear about in Beerbongs & Bentleys.
In chapter 2, the teacher talks about how self-indulgence, sex, and pleasure will never bring happiness or satisfaction in life. He uses the Hebrew word hevel, which means smoke or vapor, to describe life. The teacher is saying that life’s meaning is hevel. Like smoke, life is unclear, confusing, uncontrollable. In chapter 5, he talks about the vanity of living for wealth, honor, and success. In chapter 7, he says that even living “wisely” doesn’t guarantee happiness, health, popularity, wealth, or success. The teacher ends his comments by saying that death comes to everyone regardless of how they live.
Both the teacher and Post Malone have given up on hope. They realize the vanity of living and summarize by saying that life is short and everyone dies alone. Nothing satisfies so just eat, drink, be merry, for tomorrow you die (Ecclesiastes 8v15).
Which is a message we’ve heard before.
Ever since the Garden, when we unleashed hell into God’s good world, we’ve been trying to find meaning apart from God. We’ve been looking to people, possessions, health, success, money, and popularity for identity and satisfaction in life. And we’ve always come up empty and without hope.
But the good news of the gospel is that there is hope.
In the gospel, we see Jesus bringing the Kingdom of God to earth and calling his followers to repentance. We see Jesus bearing the weight of our sin on Himself and allowing the selfishness and evil we let into God’s good world to kill Him (2 Corinthians 5v21). But we then see the Spirit raising Him from the dead defeating death, evil, vanity, hevel, and hell forever! The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead now lives inside us giving us hope, meaning, comfort, and peace.
The hope of the Kingdom of God is that one day, Jesus will fully clear the smoke, vapor, unclear nature of our existence. He will bring His justice to what’s broken (Ecclesiastes 12v11) and heal His world forever (Revelation 21-22).
So the same hope on offer to Post Malone is the same hope on offer to each one of us. That because of who Jesus is and what He’s done for us, our value, identity, and meaning in life extends far beyond the temporary things of this world. We are accepted, loved, valued, chosen, and forgiven in Jesus. We have the full righteous of God given to us by grace through faith in Jesus.
Let the good news of the gospel be the song we stream 1.6 billion times.