Decoding

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I didn’t watch the Grammys last night.  It’s not really my thing.  I don’t watch the Super Bowl either; however, I will watch the State of the Union on Tuesday.  I know:  nerd alert.

But some of my friends were talking about one of the performances, and so I did a quick YouTube search to find it.

Now, there’s a lot in this performance that doesn’t sit well with me, not least of which is Madonna’s outfit.  And I can see that a lot of my friends might be really offended by the message they hear.  But I’m just wondering if we have more important things to do than be offended.

One thing I’ve learned over my last eight years as a mother is that my children often communicate their needs to me in really odd ways.  A tantrum on the floor might mean “I’m hungry.”  Destroying something might mean “I’m scared.”  Being downright annoying and bratty might mean “I need a lot of love today.”  I’m not always great at decoding these messages, but I think it’s an essential part of being a nurturing and loving mother.

I think the church needs to be better at decoding messages too.  Our gut reaction to this performance might be revulsion, fear, or disgust, but is that helpful?  I don’t think so.

It’s pretty clear to me that this entire performance is a letter to the church.  And, all things considered, it’s pretty sincere and respectful.  Did you notice the stained glass windows?  The choir in the background?  They are talking to us.  And now we have the chance to talk back.

So what are we going to do?  We could literally or figuratively stomp out in disgust.  We could talk about how our culture is spiraling out of control.  We could climb up in our fortress and slam the door in fear.  Or . . . we could listen and decode.  What are they really saying?

I hear confusion.  I hear a lot of hurt, a lot of suffering.  I hear that they feel judged and misunderstood.  I hear a desire for peace, for kindness, for love.  And I hear some pretty accurate accusations that we (the Church) have not loved well.  I hear that they have misheard or misunderstood our representation of Jesus.

So, how do we respond?  How would Jesus respond?

I have a few thoughts.  I think we have to be humble.  I think we have to listen.  And I think that before we dive into what’s right and what’s wrong, we have to make amends for what we’ve done wrong.  Here’s a start.

And I can honestly say that I don’t know what comes next.  This issue has been heavy on my heart for the last year.  I do not know what the answers are.  But I’m tired of the hatefulness and the disgust.  That is useless.  I want to be loving and truthful.  I want to point people to Jesus, not scare them away.  And I want to be someone who listens, and listens well.  I want to respond to what’s really being said, not just what’s on the surface.

I think it’s time for us to do this better.  God help us.

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