Who would you say is the biggest band in the world right now? Would it be Mumford and Sons? fun.? Maroon 5? One Direction?
In the late 80s, the answer to that question would have undoubtedly been U2. In 1989, at the peak of their international popularity, U2 decided to take a break. After ten years of constant touring across the world and six smash records, the biggest band in the world took a few years off to, as Bono said at the time, “dream it all up again.”
When they returned with their next album “Achtung Baby” in 1991, most people expected it would consist of the same uplifting, soul-searching arena rock that was a trademark of U2. Instead, “Achtung Baby” sounded like this:
“Achtung Baby” was not just a tremendous departure from anything U2 had ever created, but from anything on the radio in 1991. Why would the biggest band in the world completely deconstruct their sound and release an album so far removed from their previous catalog?
Here’s the trick: they wanted to thrive, not just survive.
Bono and the boys had (and continue to have) a deep understanding of one of the undeniable truths of the Bible, one they have embraced their entire career: everyone lives.
We all know everyone dies. There is no escaping death. It is the great equalizer. But do you ever think about the parallel? If everyone dies, doesn’t everyone have to live?
Perhaps this is not totally accurate. There are many who would say, to paraphrase “Braveheart”, every man dies but not every man truly lives.
Fair enough. Maybe a better way to say it is that we are all placed on this earth for an indefinite, brief period of time. There is no arguing this truth.
We each have a choice as to how we will spend this indefinite, brief period time. Will we just try to get by and survive each day? Or will we really live, making the most of our meager moments? Will our lives seem empty, or will we find abundance in each day?
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The theif comes to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:7-10)
Jesus came into this world and sacrificed his life for us. He did not die on the cross for us to just scrape by. He died so that we could experience life, and life abundantly.
When U2 crafted their comeback album “Achtung Baby” they did want to follow the pattern of their previous hit records. They had experienced the greatest riches this world has to offer; they didn’t need any more new clothes or cars.
Instead, U2 chose to challenge themselves creatively. In doing so they created a new sound and a legendary second era to their career, bigger than even their first decade.
God does not want us to live with survival in mind. He does not want us to live life in a constant state of Y2K paranoia: worrying each day about having enough and stockpiling more and more for the rainy days of our future.
Life abundantly does not take place in the safety of a storage room among an abundance of things. Life abundantly is what happens when you step out of your comfort zone and into the danger zone.
Taking big risks in life worked out pretty well for U2. In fact, it worked so well that in the year 2000 they did it gain. After another extended layoff, the band released the album “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” which featured another entirely new sound.
U2 has not released an album in 4 years. Who knows – they may be on the brink of completely changing the landscape of music yet again.
How are you choosing to live your life? You have no choice but to do something with the time you are given. What will that something be?
You don’t have to simply exist. You don’t have to simply survive. The trick to thriving in life is taking risks. Don’t be afraid to fail. Choose instead to have a life that thrives.
Life a life that is pleasing to God as you are already doing. Yes, we urge you to keep living and thriving in that life. (1st Thessalonians 4:1)
When’s the last time you took a risk with your life? How did it work out for you? How can you try to thrive and not just survive in life today? What’s your favorite U2 song? Leave a comment below and join the conversation: