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Is There Grace for Miley Cyrus?

September 4, 2013 1 comment

Hannah-Montana-Forever-10I had decided I had waited too long to comment on Miley Cyrus’ appearance on the Video Music Awards a week or so ago. Then I saw a poll that had been conducted by a local newspaper:

How would you describe Miley Cyrus’s performance at the MTV Awards?

  1. 63% Disgusting
  2. 19% Should have been censored
  3. 0% Cry for help
  4. 10% What happened to that innocent Hannah Montana?
  5. 7% It was OK by me

I appreciate the fact that the paper tried to be somewhat objective, in phrasing the question so that it was about the performance and not the performer. We were not so fortunate when other people were commenting on the incident.

I had more people than I care to count tell me, not that the performance was “disgusting,” but that Miley was. She was also “nasty,” “totally untalented,” and surely “must be on drugs.” Too many followers of Christ, including myself, were willing to drag another human being through the mud based on what? Something that offended us and our sensibilities? Were the batteries dead in our remotes? Did our remote not have an on/off switch or a channel changer?

I seriously doubt it. We watched it, when it happened live or the jillions of times it was replayed on news channels, and we clucked our tongues and we thanked God we were “not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector [singer].”

Is there grace for Miley Cyrus?

I hope I would always say yes, yes, if she would just open her eyes and understand that God loves her, has always loved her and that he accepts her, and that she doesn’t have to expose her body or behave in sexually provocative ways to get affection and acceptance and significance…

But I’m not sure I always do say yes.

Miley is 20 years old. I thank God that the sinful mistakes I made at 20 were not broadcast on television or written up in the newspapers.  She is most likely surrounded by people who constantly say, “Yes Miley, whatever you think Miley, sounds like a great idea to me Miley…” There is probably nobody in her life who can put the brakes on, challenge her and encourage her to rethink. I’m afraid of what my own children would be like in those circumstances.

I guess the bottom line is “what can we do?” We can tone down the judgmental rhetoric. (How would you feel if your child made a huge, public mistake and people called them nasty and disgusting?) And we can pray – that the eyes of Miley and others would be opened to the reality of a God who stands ready to forgive, love, and accept. And we can offer to others the same grace, in the same measure, we would want for ourselves.

Yes, there’s grace for Miley Cyrus – and for all of us finger-pointing Pharisees too.

Categories: acceptance, brokenness, drama, grace, sin

Getting it right…

August 24, 2009 3 comments

Yesterday, I preached about being a church for everybody and anybody, and afterwards a guy told me an interesting story.

The guy telling the story has a friend, female, who is a member of another church in our area. One Sunday afternoon, they had planned to hang after church.  He wanted to do some outdoor kind of stuff, and she was wearing a dress, so he said, “You probably want to change clothes – you can wear some of my sister’s jeans if you need to.” From there, the conversation went something like this:

She: “Oh no, I always bring a change of clothes with me on Sunday’s – in case the ushers at our church tell me I need to change clothes…”

He: “Do what now?”

She: “Well, like if they think my skirt is too short, or if I have on shorts – you can’t wear those at all… And the ushers are not supposed to let you in if you’re not dressed ‘appropriately’.”

He: “Are you serious? You mean they would keep people out if they’re wearing certain clothes?”

She: “Well… no… I’m mean, they wouldn’t really…”

He: “But you just said they would!”

She: “I know… but no… I mean…”

And we’ll let her off the hook here – and let me say that I trust the guy who told me this, and I also know the young lady, and I’m familiar with the church… If she is correctly describing the policy and practice of that church – well, I could be amazed or amused or angry about it, but mostly I’m ashamed of what that church is communicating to people who are far from God…

The fact that such things still happen today tells me that Jubilee is doing exactly what God wants us to do in our community – building a church where ANYBODY can come, no matter how they’re dressed and without regard to their life circumstances, find love and acceptance.

One of the earliest “church fights” was over some people who were trying to make folks jump through some hoops to get to God that He never intended for people to have to jump through. James – Jesus’ half-brother, and the leader of the church at Jerusalem – made this incredible statement to settle the dispute:

“It’s my judgement that we should not make it difficult for people to come to God…”

That’s the kind of pastor I want to be, and the kind of church I want Jubilee to be – but much more important than that, I believe that’s the kind of church God wants us to be.

So, don’t bring a change of clothes when you come to Jubilee – we make it easier than that to find out more about the God who loves you so much He’d rather die than live without you.

A changed life is better than changing clothes…

Categories: acceptance, change, church