Music Review: Jesus Of Suburbia

This is an article that I originally wrote on April 4th 2007. Enjoy.

Jesus of Suburbia

We are the stories and disciples of the Jesus of Suburbia

 

Warning: Clip contains questionable lyrics and content. Viewing is at your discretion.

2004 saw the release of Green Day’s “punk rock opera” American Idiot. Their most successful album to date, American Idiot brought a lot of attention to this punk trio from California. But it’s one track in particular that grabbed the attention of many Christian teen rockers. Jesus of Suburbia. This multi part epic led many people to ask “Are Green Day writing songs about Christianity?” The answer was “Yeah, but no.”

There must be something in there, right? I mean Jesus’ name is right there in the title. And there’s definitely Christian language used in the song: From the Bible… Died for my sins in Hell… sitting on my crucifix… The Holy Scriptures… and so on. We’re definitely meant to get a Christian vibe going on.

However the Jesus of Suburbia is most definitely not the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of Suburbia represents pain and suffering. He represents meaninglessness and hopelessness. For the Jesus of Suburbia, there is no point to his existence so he runs away from it all while giving the middle finger salute.

The Jesus of Suburbia is a product of society. He doesn’t feel loved or cared for. He feels abandoned by the system that was meant to support him. He’s a child of divorced parents and feels the absence of a father figure. He looks for answers in cigarettes, alcohol and drugs but instead finds more emptiness. The Jesus of Suburbia doesn’t care what you think and is definitely not someone who can save you because he can’t even save himself.

In some respects, the Jesus of Suburbia is the anti-Jesus. To say he stands for  the opposite of everything that Jesus stands for wouldn’t be quite right – The Jesus of Suburbia stands for nothing. There is no reason to follow the Jesus of Suburbia. He’s powerless and impotent and he knows it. All he can do is whinge about how everyone is to blame for where he is in life except for himself. The only hope he has, the only glimmer of hope in the whole song, comes towards the end – “To run, to run away. To find what you believe.” There’s nothing for you here, nothing to believe in. So escape. Run away. Go somewhere else. Because that’s the only chance you have of finding something to believe in, something to follow, something to base your life on. Life has no meaning, so go find a life that does.

 

The Jesus of the Bible is not the Jesus of Suburbia. The Jesus of the Bible endured pain and suffering but he did so for a reason. The Jesus of the Bible is the son of God, the creator and ruler of the universe. He came to earth with a purpose and a mission. He came to us to preach not a message of hopelessness and despair but a message of hope and anticipation. As it is written in Ephesians 2:1 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…” We were dead. Were deserving of God’s punishment. There was no point to the life we were living cause it led to death and destruction.

 

But Jesus came into the world. He was and is the perfect son of God. At no stage did he do anything to earn any kind of punishment. He was arrested and falsely accused of wrong doing. He was beaten, humiliated and executed. He was abandoned by his friends and left to die alone. On that cross, on that means of his unjust execution, God poured onto him every bit of anger he had in him. Jesus suffered the punishment for every single sin committed by every single person, ever. But why? Why did Jesus do this? What was the point?

 

Because without the Jesus of the Bible there is no hope. Without Jesus there is no point to this life. Without Jesus we were doomed to face God’s punishment. Without Jesus living is futile. There just is no reason for anything. Because of our sin, because we have disobeyed God time and time again we have earned God’s punishment. No matter how hard we try, we can’t fix the broken relationship between us and God. But with Jesus there is hope. With Jesus there is reason. With Jesus we see God taking the initiative and fixing that relationship.

 

In 1 Peter it says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  ?and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:3-4). If you are a follower of Jesus, if you accept that the Son of God died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, then you have been given an inheritance. Jesus died so that you can be saved from God’s punishment. And it’s more than just not being punished. Way more. Salvation means entry to Heaven. Salvation means that you can be in a relationship with God. Jesus died so that your existence my have meaning.

If you are a follower of Jesus, if you are a Christian, then your life has a point. You know where you’re going – you’re going to Heaven. You know where you stand in this universe – you are in a relationship with the guy who made everything. You know what to do with your life. Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,  ?so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If you are a Christian, then your life’s goal is to glorify God. In everything you do, bring glory to him. Tell everyone how great he is. Tell everyone what he has done for you. Show people through your actions that you are different, that because of God your life has meaning.

 

In the Green Day song Are We The Waiting from later on in the album, we find this line “The Jesus of Suburbia is a lie”.  And they are right. If you believe that the Jesus of Suburbia is the Jesus to follow then you are buying into the lie. You are accepting that life is pointless and there is no hope. Why would you follow this Jesus? To me, that’s just stupid. The Jesus of the Bible is the truth. His offer of hope and salvation is the real deal and it’s being offered to you.  This Jesus not only brings hope, but his promises are worth the effort.

 

Which Jesus are you going to follow?

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About Joel A Moroney

Associate Minister at St Luke's Anglican Church, Liverpool (in the Sydney Diocese). A very strange man, but he usually has Pez, so that makes it okay.

5 responses to “Music Review: Jesus Of Suburbia”

  1. alex says :

    i like how u explain all about st. jimmy cause he’s the most amazing person ever and i fucking love him

    but i have to say one thing
    Jesus of the bible suck’s

    • Joel A Moroney says :

      I’d be interested to hear why you love St Jimmy and also why you don’t like the Jesus of the Bible. Would you be able to flesh that out a bit for me? Keen to hear from you.

  2. arianne says :

    ahmmm..so, is the song anti-Christ??i really like the song but i think im afraid coz maybe i will hurt Him if i will sing it :CC

    • Joel A Moroney says :

      I don’t think the song is anti Christian. I don’t think the song is about Christianity at all. It uses the language and framework of the Christian faith to tell the story of disenfranchised youth. The Jesus of Suburbia is not the Jesus of the Bible.
      Follow the Jesus of the Bible. He’s worth while

  3. Amalia says :

    I’d like to make a comment on a few of the things you wrote about, I was really interested in learning more about the Jesus of the Bible, for I am not a Christian but the subject interests me greatly, and also, before going to my point, I am a Green Day fan and specially of this song, I think is a masterpiece and the video stand right next to it in this position.

    I agree, the Jesus of Suburbia is NOT the Jesus of the Bible, will never be.

    I understand way more about the Jesus of Suburbia than about the Jesus of the Bible (For obvious reasons as I said before, but also because is a much simpler, easier subject) and I felt the need to come and tell you that your perception of him, is not entirely complete.
    What i mean is, you are not wrong, he does stand for the things you said (pain, suffering, rejection and so on) but that is not all, he is not complete evil or grief, and I think that is highly misunderstood, specially if one only sees the video or focuses on that song of the album.

    The Jesus of Suburbia is the product of the real modern world, what today’s life is creating, as the song says “the son of rage and love”, and though, most of it seems bad, not all of him is. No, he is not a Christian nor believes or loves God, but at the same time, he doesnt hate Him, or the idea of Him.
    He is different, “Of the Bible of None of the Above” not what is already established, something else that many dont understand, and he is not alone. The suburbia on his name implies that he comes from the suburbs, where lives an “identifiable community or class in society” and you can see it in the video too, several other people who look, behave and think like him. But even then, he is different from them too. He falls in between various edges, Love and Rage, care and indiference, war and peace, believers and non believers, among others.

    He knows that most of this society believes in God, but his life’s been so wrecked and damaged that is hard to understand such a perfect and holy being. Also, he questions “If this is a land of make believe, why dont they believe in me?” he is different, and because of it, he is not accepted as being “right” or “correct”. You have to understand, not even his mother believes in him, and as much as he seems the leader of suffering and rage, he does care. He does want to change the world and himself and he has faith in something, in something he will find.

    There is this big place with “signs misleading to nowhere” where kids are damaged from birth “born and raised by hypocrites” and they grow up believeing in no good or just nothing at all and end up breaking their lives and then raising their children in the same horrible way, so is a circle that continues. Well, when he grew up and saw what was out there, he just did what the rest did (the drugs, alcohol, etc) but after a while he realized he does have a heart and feelings and some hope. He is not like the rest of them, he cares.
    And because of this, no one believes in him, not the God believers who see him as “wrong” and full of sins, and not the Non believers who dont understand how he cares and is not exactly like them. That’s why he has the courage to run away , with faith and hope that he can find something else, someone who believes in him, something he can believe in.

    I dont know if you heard the rest of the album, but it clearly says that he does care about this world, about life and even makes criticism to the way some people handle this place we all live in.

    So i highly recomend this album to anyone, i do not think is anti Christ, and definetly, not one of the band members of Green Day is. Is a very clever song (album, video) that represents a lot of what is happening nowadays, how we are all different, not perfect and how is okay to find what you believe in, whatever and wherever that might be. Go for it.

    To conclude what i want to say, The Jesus of Suburbia stands for today’s happenings (one side showing us God, love, forgiveness and the other hate, war and misery) for the hurt and indiference kids feel from the moment they are born, for the reality of the cruel, raw world. BUT, also he stands for the hope (as little as it might be) each one of us still have inside and how you have to use everything you’ve got to escape to a better place and to set your ground on your heart, fight what you believe (by the way, i think the lyrics say “to FIGHT what you believe” not “to FIND what you believe”)

    I would love for you to reply, I think you have a point of view very different from mine and i find it interesting, i could learn a lot from you. Thank you for reading!

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