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Music Discussions

Heathens
08/20/2016

Dynamic ImageMain Point of Discussion:
Jesus wants us to be wise in how we tell others about Him.

Introducing The Song:
Twenty One Pilots just made another headline this week as their third song this year rose to number one on the Billboard hot rock songs chart. Most of the buzz around this achievement comes from the fact that they replaced themselves on the chart and pushed their song "Ride" into second place. If you include their other number one song this year, "Stressed Out," they have occupied spot one (as of this week) for 33 weeks this year marking a new record in the category. They are clearly one of the most popular rock acts in the US right now.

"Heathens," their latest hit comes from the soundtrack to the movie Suicide Squad and marks the first time that Twenty One Pilots has been hired to write a song for someone else. Lead singer Tyler Joseph makes the quick disclaimer that, "even though the themes in the movie inspired the beginning of it, as the lyrics came together, and as the song came together, I realized, like, this was our song."

While the song has numerous references to themes in the film, it also can be interpreted on several different levels. Like many other Twenty One Pilots songs, the internet has been abuzz with theories as to the multiple meanings of the song. The lyrics have obvious spiritual implications and Tyler has stated in many interviews that he is in fact a Christian. But in typical fashion, the band remains very cryptic about the meaning of their lyrics, allowing their fans to do their own interpretive work.

The Music Video:
The video can be found for free at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UprcpdwuwCg



Song Lyrics:

"Heathens"

All my friends are heathens. Take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse

All my friends are heathens. Take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse

Welcome to the room of people
Who have rooms of people that they loved one day
Docked away
Just because we check the guns at the door
Doesn't mean our brains will change from hand grenades

You'll never know the psychopath sitting next to you
You'll never know the murderer sitting next to you
You'll think, "How'd I get here, sitting next to you?"
But after all I've said
Please don't forget

All my friends are heathens. Take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse

We don't deal with outsiders very well
They say newcomers have a certain smell
You have trust issues, not to mention
They say they can smell your intentions

You'll never know the freakshow sitting next to you
You'll have some weird people sitting next to you
You'll think, "How did I get here, sitting next to you?"
But after all I've said
Please don't forget
(watch it, watch it)

All my friends are heathens. Take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse

All my friends are heathens. Take it slow
(watch it)
Wait for them to ask you who you know
(watch it)
Please, all my friends are heathens. Take it slow
(watch it)
Wait for them to ask you who you know

Why'd you come, you knew you should have stayed
(it's blasphemy)
I tried to warn you just to stay away
And now they're outside ready to bust
It looks like you might be one of us

Transitional Statement:
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word "heathen" means "a person who does not belong to a widely held religion (especially one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim) as regarded by those who do." It is generally a derogatory term that can also mean unenlightened, or someone who lacks culture or moral principles. So when the chorus begins with "all my friends are heathens," they are clearly talking about how outsiders are often perceived or treated poorly. But when the words come from someone who claims to be a Christian, it is hard not to see the spiritual implications. Consequently, one pretty obvious interpretation of the song is about how Christians should relate to those who don't know Jesus.


Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:
  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Have you ever had to spend a significant amount of time with someone who sees the world very differently than you do? How do you talk to them? Do you avoid talking about your religious beliefs, or do you jump right in?

  2. ASK A FEW: Have you (or someone you know) ever scared your friends or family with over-aggressive evangelism? What do you think that the song means by "take it slow"?

  3. ASK A FEW: What do you think the song means by "Wait for them to ask you who you know"? Could they be referring to Jesus?

  4. ASK A FEW: When he says " Please don't make any sudden moves, you don't know the half of the abuse" who do you think is abused? Who do you think might have caused the abuse? Could he be implying that some Christians might be to blame? Would you treat someone differently if you knew that they were abused?

  5. ASK A FEW: In your experience, does the pain and abuse that people experience in the world affect whether they believe in God? How?

  6. ASK A FEW: While the line about never knowing the "psychopath" or "murderer" sitting next to you may be about the movie, could it be also true to a certain degree in your life? Could there be people around you who have done terrible things? How do you treat them?

  7. ASK A FEW: When the song says "they can smell your intentions" what do you think he means? How do your friends react to people who have an agenda or ulterior motives in a relationship? Can confrontational evangelism be an ulterior motive that gets in the way of building sincere relationships?

  8. ASK A FEW: Have you ever seen a church or a youth group that doesn't treat outsiders very well? Why do you think that is? How did Jesus treat outsiders? (See John 4:1-26)

  9. ASK A FEW: The last line in the song is "it looks like you might be one of us." What does that mean? Is it possible that you may be as broken as many of those around you?

  10. Read the following passage in the Bible:

      Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
      14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

  11. ASK A FEW: Jesus is using the analogy of light to emphasize our role in shining for Him so others can see what a relationship with God looks like. When He says "let your light shine before others," what is he talking about? How can we let our light shine in the world?

  12. ASK A FEW: How do people put their light under a bowl? What do you think Jesus thinks about isolating ourselves from people who don't believe in Him?

  13. ASK A FEW: Is letting people "see your good deeds" a form of evangelism? Does evangelism always involve talking?

  14. ASK A FEW: What do you think Jesus means by good deeds? (See Matthew 22:36-40)

  15. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Do you think loving your neighbor is a way that we glorify God and shine a light to the world? Why?

Wrap Up:
It is very common for communities to grow around people with similar beliefs and values. Let's face it - it's way more comfortable than hanging out with people who see life from a different view. As Christians, even we often find it easier to surround ourselves with people who see the world in the same way we do. Many times that means that we never have relationships with people who aren't Christians. And then, when we do talk to them, we just preach at them instead of actually loving them and spending time getting to know them and building a real friendship. But in reality, Christians are called to something much more difficult and rewarding. When Jesus came into the world, He changed things up. He asked us to be lights shining for Him.

To many people outside of the Christian faith, we are seen as people who always have an agenda. They are very aware that we will only treat them better when they start to think the way that we do.

Jesus didn't do things that way. He loved all sorts of broken people and was constantly criticized by the religious snobs of the day for hanging out with them. But Jesus would usually turn the criticism around on the religious people and point out that they were often even worse than the ones that they despised so much (because they should have known better).

When we isolate ourselves from people who don't know Jesus, we are in turn, hiding our light under a basket. Jesus wants us to shine our light as if we are a city on a hill. This means that we actually need to connect with our neighbors, even if they may view the world much differently than we do.

Does this mean you should make your inner most circle of friends people who don't know Jesus and actually draw you away from your faith? Not at all. Again, look to Jesus' example. He surrounded himself with other believers who shared the same faith, conviction and mission to reach others. It was with this core group of believers that he went out and reached the lost.

Jesus didn't just hang out in the tabernacle all day and hang out with religious people. Jesus and his disciples built relationships with all kinds of sinners.

Evangelism is about relationships. As people see us living out lives of hope, love and honesty, they may desire to be in relationship with Jesus because of our example (and our words). We should aspire to shine as brightly as we can by deepening our own relationships with Jesus. Perhaps Twenty One Pilots are on to something wise with their advice to "take it slow" and "wait for them to ask you who you know."

Close in Prayer

Written by Thom McKee

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Comments on this post

   Martin         6/29/2017 8:14:36 AM

Great food for thought for our Youth Ministry summer series on "Songs of our generation" Thanks and God bless your faithfulness.

   Joseph         11/12/2016 9:05:42 PM

This is my Sunday School lesson for Middle and High school students. Very good lesson. Thanks!

   Dan Barber         8/24/2016 2:44:26 PM

Planning on using this next week to spark discussion.















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