In 1977, Iggy Pop released the classic song, “The Passenger”, a song that he says he wrote as he was riding Germany’s S-Bahn train, but also thinking of how he had been been driven around several countries for which he didn’t have a driver’s license. It’s not exactly a Psalm, or is it?
The lyrics are pretty simple: “I am the passenger, I stay under glass, I look through my window so bright, I see the stars come out tonight . . . and everything looks good tonight.” The lyrics are basically repeated in first person singular (“I”/”me”), first person plural (“we/us”), and third person singular (“he”), and then back around to first person.
Listening to these lyrics as a Christian, I’m struck by the idea of what it means to be under God’s grace. We, in many ways, are the passengers to God’s plan of salvation. We’re present, we’re viewing, we even are given the assurance that when we look out at the world, God is telling us “All of this is yours and mine”.
But we’re not driving, and to some of us, that is a disconcerting reality. The soulful dissonance of the song reflects this tension. It’s only when we’re the passenger that we can really see the things happening outside the car. The driver has to stay focused on the road, look for upcoming problems, cars, etc. The passenger, especially the passenger who has total trust in the driver, is then set truly free in order to see the landscape in front of them.
This is a picture of our freedom in Christ. God has offered to drive. He will handle the problems of our sins, we need only trust. He will make sure we arrive safe, and has given us the injunction to enjoy the ride. We’re all under glass – you, me, and Iggy Pop. Christ has died for all of us and has made us the Passenger. All of this is yours and mine, so let’s ride and ride and ride . . . la la la la la la la la la . . .