While watching music videos on YouTube last week, a thought occurred to me. These songs are more relevant to what the kids in my youth group are going through than any Christian song I’ve heard lately. The two music videos I’m specifically referring to are “Firework” by Katy Perry and “Perfect” by P!nk. They’re empowering songs and with strong messages about acceptance and self worth. I’ve stood on the fringes at points in my life and longed to belong. Wondering what do I need to change about myself to be better? Wanting to fit in with the crowd and be accepted. In those moments I relate more to Job who just blurts out “I cry out to You and You don’t answer me”. While my Christian music gives me hope, so many times when I come home from a bad day, I don’t want to turn on Chris Tomlin singing “How Great is our God”. I want to here P!nk tell me to “Raise my glass if you are wrong in all the right ways” or Katy Perry telling me to “show ‘em what your worth”. It’s okay to be different because there’s a place for all of it. There’s a reason for being different and in your own imperfections, you are perfect. Isn’t that the message that Christ wanted us to learn? He asks the woman cast at his feet “where are your accusers?” Then tells her “I don’t accuse you either”. Now there would be those who would argue at this point that Jesus concluded by saying “go and sin no more”, but I think the larger part of that entire interaction was JESUS ACCEPTED THE WOMEN FOR WHO SHE WAS!!! He didn’t condemn her first, tell her how wrong she was, guilt her into changing, and then say “there’s hope and grace for your future if you turn from your life of sin”. He gave her the hope and grace first by acknowledging her as a valuable person. Her life changed after that point from the nightmare it was. When you watch the music video for “Perfect”, you see the same thing. There comes a point where a person sits in a bathtub contemplating how insignificant their life is and realizes their value; and their entire life changes from that point forward. The imperfections they have had create the perfection they become. Their life’s sorrows lead them to joy. Christianity misses this all too often. We so many times put the emphasis on “come to Jesus and he will give value and meaning to your life”. We want people to acknowledge that their life sucks, but there is someone far greater who will give your life meaning. What these popular artists show us is that there is value in who you are. Isn’t that what we should be preaching to our students and church members? Shouldn’t we be telling them in the words of VeggieTales “God made you special and he loves you very much”? Many Christians would look at Katy Parry’s other music or lifestyle and immediately write her off as having nothing good to contribute. Others would see a video for “Firework” and because it has two gay men kissing would immediately discount the overarching message. Tony Campolo illustrates this perfectly with one of my favourite quotes. “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.” Recently in an article by Jars of Clay front man Dan Haseltine about how he thinks Christian art has gotten too safe he shared similar sentiments. In it he says “The Christian skin seems to be ever thinning. As long as Christians interpret the longstanding biblical ideas of being “set apart” or “in the world but not of it” as good reasons to take a defensive stance against culture and the outside world, the offenses will pile up.” He was directly referencing foul language and art that Christians typically find offensive and therefore write off the entire message. There are a plethora of artists and contemporary culture that speak to the core of who we are as individuals. Shows like Glee and artists like Lady Gaga who speaks openly about being made fun of in high school, are willing to show us the value Christ has put on lives. There’s a reason why these shows and songs are so popular. There are powerful messages that fill in the gaps that many of our tame Christian messages miss out. Christ came to embrace the broken and marginalized outcasts to show them how much value the kingdom of heaven puts on them.
February 12, 2011
What P!nk Can Teach Christians