>This article appeared in the Tennessean. It was written by Norman Summerlin. I couldn’t have put it better myself. I remember going to Degarmo & Key concert and only paying $2. Try going to a Third Day concert and paying that much today…. Read on.

If you would allow me, I would like to preface my question with a statement. I do not have any problem with the free enterprise system. I fully agree with most that if you provide a service, you should be fairly compensated for it. Although, I will say that the term “fairly compensated” has a very different meaning to each individual.

But what if the service you provide is for the sake of someone else? If the sole purpose of what you do is to promote someone else’s lifestyle, to encourage and improve the lives of others, what does “fairly compensated” mean? Especially if the person you are working for has already agreed to provide you with everything you need or desire.

My question is W.W.J.C.? What would Jesus charge? Looking at the life of Christ, why did he give up all His glory to become a man and walk the Earth among us? Was it to impress us with all sorts of miracles and wondrous signs? No, it was to save us all, from a deadly fire if you will, to forever live a life of total happiness that we were made to live.

During His time among us, is there any record of Jesus healing a blind person, then sending them a bill? Did He ever agree to come to a town to speak, but only if He received a certain amount of money and had certain fruits and water in a private area where the only access was by personal invitation? He did have expenses, didn’t He? After all, he left a carpentry business, and His entourage gave up profitable careers to save us.

If you witnessed an accident and the vehicle caught fire, would you save a child, strapped in the carseat, only after the parents agreed to pay you? Or if your neighbor’s house caught fire in the middle of the night. Would you run over to wake them and get them out, then expect to be paid for it? If we, as human beings, not just believers, heard of anyone doing such a thing, they would become outcasts off the face of the planet. But is “Christianity” heading down that same path?

I have loved music my entire life. I grew up listening to, and singing along with, the rock groups of the 70s. I, along with other kids, would envy the bands and their lifestyle. Traveling the world, money everywhere, adoration of millions of fans. After becoming a Christian, I became aware of Christian music.

At Tuesday night bible study, my friends and I would sing along with The Imperials after the lessons were done. The Imperials showed me that Christian music was not only good, but that in singing along, I could be sharing the same messages from Sunday mornings in a different way. I started searching out and listening to all styles of Christian music. Although I still enjoy listening to some of the classic rock of my youth, I mainly listen to Christian artists now. It was a great thrill to me to be able to meet and thank Armond Morales and Dave Will a few years ago for the effect their music had on my life. I would not be where I am in my faith walk if not for Christian music.

Which leads me back to the original question. W.W.J.C.? Two of the most successful Christian singers/songwriters would no doubt be Keith Green and Rich Mullins. Both of these men could have been multi-millionaires if they focused on being “fairly compensated” for the talents God gave them. Both men focused more on the message than the money and were rewarded greatly for it. How many artists today be willing to give their albums away as Keith Green did? How many would give their money away and live on the average salary of working Americans as Rich Mullins did?

Now, am I saying that it is wrong for artists to be paid for their efforts and talents? Not at all! But as a listener, especially a non-believer, how easy would it be to believe and follow a message of trusting God with and for everything in my life if the messenger is not. I have been told directly by some artist’s managers that I would never get an artist to appear without paying thousands of dollars and agreeing to a list of riders first. In the early days of performing Christian music, most artists (some still do) would appear by taking a “love” offering. Now you are lucky to get a ticket for less than $35.00 each. It makes it very difficult for a family to attend themselves, much less bring non-believing friends and family.