Grammys: Culture Shift and Gospel Clarity
2014-01-28
I sat down to watch the Grammy's this past week with my wife in the comfort of our basement.  It began with full HD Beyonce and her husband showing us what they want us to think happens in their bedroom on a nightly basis - drunk love.  The crowd roared.  

I am not sure of the order of things, but as the Grammys rolled on my annoying commentary fell silent as I watched.  I love music, and some of the music was amazing.  The groove that Lorde lays down is moving.  Her voice is haunting.  Pink is not only an incredible singer but she can swing from the ceiling and do things with her strength that puts 90% of America to shame in their athletic prowess.  One of my favorite moments of the night was watching Metallica play with master pianist Lang Lang, one of my favorite songs, "One."  The mix was bad, but it was still thrilling.  I watched as two French robots played funky drunk wedding reception music and everyone had a party.  Mackelmore got up to declare that the Bible I preach from every week is paraphrased and then proceeded to judge everyone who doesn't agree with his paraphrase that they are wrong for judging.  Hypocrisy at it's best and most glamorous.  The crowd roared.  

I watched with equal parts glee and gloom.  The culture has shifted - but this too is nothing new.  The culture shifted many ages ago when man decided to paraphrase what God had asked of them in the Garden.  Paraphrasing has always been trouble for the human race.  When I was younger I used to paraphrase what my mom and dad had said so that I could basically disobey them and do what I wanted to do.  We live in shifting cultures because we are shifting people.  What I saw at the Grammys is that the culture has shifted the way it has always been shifting. 

There were moments where I was literally heartbroken while watching the Grammys.  I know that the Grammys do not represent the majority of Americans or even the majority of the world.  It's a show.  It is entertainment.  It is an auditorium that is full of a bunch of people who think they are more important to the world than they actually are - pretty much like any church or any other gathering of people anywhere - it's human nature.  Even so, there has been a shift that many will celebrate.  It is a shift that Paul doesn't prophesy but recollects in Romans when he writes, "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools,  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen."

Do you notice that Paul is talking about the past?  He is recollecting what has already happened.  Many Christians use this passage to prophesy about the future, but Paul is talking about the past!  And he is talking about the past to address the present and the future.  He is warning the church to learn from the past.  We think that Beyonce's routine is new, but Herod's daughter seduced him with the same routine.  We think that Macklemore's lyrics are groundbreaking, but Eve used the same reasoning along with an endless line of human beings to follow her.  We think that a party like the Grammys has never taken place before, but Belshazzar's party ended up with a floating hand writing on the wall about how his life would end that very night.  When we declare that we have come up with something new or novel in rebellion to what God has clearly laid out we are playing the fool.  

But I am encouraged.  Why?  Because I believe that I am right and everyone else is wrong?  Because I have a corner market on the truth?  No.  I am encouraged because when I doubt, I can once again return to the Cross of Jesus.  I am encouraged because the Gospel song remains the same and it doesn't depend on how I am feeling that day or how the culture has shifted again.  When I look at the stage I see human beings just like me who are flawed just like me and who are in rebellion against God because they want to be God.  And I am encouraged because God has not changed the remedy for heresy and rebellion.  The Gospel is the same, the mission is the same, and the remedy is the same.  Jesus has not changed with the culture.  Jesus' invitation for sinners and self-proclaimed saints is the same - "those of you who are tired of carrying your burden of sin, give it to me, I want to carry it for you, I have paid for it, and I want to free you up to enjoy God forever."  I like that paraphrase better than Macklemore's.  Sorry.  

My views about morality, do's and do not's, will not change the culture.  But I firmly believe that the Gospel can and will continue to change hearts.  I trust that God will do what He needs to do and so I do not fear.  My mission is not to judge you or Macklemore or Metallica.  My mission is motivated not by God's vengeance but by God's mercy.  I have God's mercy in view when I invite you to come to Jesus just as you are and to hear the unchanging Gospel of how He makes all things new.  He forgives sin.  He crushes shame and guilt.  He gives life where there is only death.  Somehow the Gospel message was buried a while ago and was turned into a tale of morality.  If the church wants to address the shifting culture, they must trust in the unchanging Gospel where the song of grace remains the same.    

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