I sometimes feel ashamed for saying this. But I think I’ve become so desensitized to everything I see and hear in today’s world that it’s become the norm for me. That violent or sex-filled show. The mindless bickering we hear from the rotating lineup of talking heads on any political show we choose to watch. Things rarely surprise or shock me anymore. But something changed when I saw the YouTube video of Sam Smith’s “Unholy” performance at the Grammys. I won’t talk about my disgust with it (although I certainly was disgusted when I first saw it).
A fellow blogger with the website Beauty Beyond Bones already said everything I possibly could have said in a blog post I read. You can check out her take here. She did a wonderful job of articulating why those of us who are bothered by it were so upset. Her website is definitely worth subscribing to as well! She’s fantastic!
But what I will say, is that seeing the video of the performance just shocked me awake. It snapped me awake. And it wasn’t even like, “Oh my goodness, that’s horrible.” It WAS bad obviously, but I was more shocked awake in the sense that something inside me said, “Yes, there still is evil in this world. And the people who celebrate this kind of thing hate you, because you speak out for, and love Jesus. Or if they don’t hate you yet, they will if you continually speak the truth. Your life won’t be comfortable if you consistently do what you’re thinking of doing. They will come after you if you speak out. Are you ready to live up to what it means to really be a Christian?” Talk about being challenged!
And later that night, a short video from probably the only mega minister I like and respect popped up in my YouTube feed as a suggested video, as if God was trying to warn me and encourage me at the same time. God bless Billy Graham!
I don’t know how often God speaks to me. Up until that happened a few nights ago, it had been a long while since I genuinely heard His voice in my heart. But I am almost positive He was speaking to me that night. It was just this feeling deep in my soul that I hadn’t felt in a long while. It was a feeling of fear, anger, disgust, and profound sadness for Sam Smith, Trevor Noah, Kim Petras, and everyone who cheered, made light of, or celebrated the performance.
I felt all those emotions, but I felt the deep sadness for them more than anything else. It’s normal to be angry or offended. That was the point of the performance. It was to mock and anger Christians. Kim Petras said so directly. But I just felt sad for them. They are lost souls. Their anger at organized religion is justified. Their anger at the manmade religious institution of Christianity is justified. But it is misplaced, since by their performance, they are giving the proverbial middle finger to all of us, when not all of us deserve it.
But saddest of all, they are showing by their anger, that they don’t know the distinction between a relationship with Jesus Christ, and participating in organized religion. And they certainly don’t know His love. Jesus loves them all, no matter how confused, proud, angry and rebellious they are. But they miss the opportunity to receive His love entirely when they willingly stay in their anger, defiance, pride, and sin. A willfully hard heart is the only sin Jesus cannot forgive. Jesus offers to take our heavy load. But He’ll back off if we want to carry it ourselves, even if it eventually will lead to our destruction.
And so, later that night, I prayed out loud genuinely for the first time in a long time, and asked God to give me strength to live for Him better than I had been doing. I really hadn’t been praying much at all. Hadn’t paid as much attention to Scripture. And I had a ‘live and let live” attitude. I have tried sharing Jesus’ love where I could, but I often shied away from saying things people didn’t want to hear. I was soft. I was a wuss. Everyone wants to hear “peace, love and understanding.” But Jesus isn’t a hippie (even though He may look like one to some people). He’s not just a great moral teacher. He’s more than that. So much more. He is a holy and just God. But that’s where people struggle to receive Him or outright reject Him for any number of reasons.
I need to keep trying my best to walk with God. But in the time between watching the performance, praying, and speaking out, I think God has given me an extra reserve of strength and bravery. Not only to speak out for Him, but also to begin cleaning up my own life. I struggle with a lot. I swear like a trucker, sometimes taking the Lord’s name in vain out of frustration at something or someone else. I let another “god” take my attention for the day, whether it’s the TV, YouTube, Facebook or that brand spanking new PS5 I got for Christmas when I have free time.
And this last one is my big demon: Lust. I have struggled with it on and off for at least a decade but have never been able to control it completely, and it always bugs me when I fall to it. Lust has really given the Devil his chance to take a prime shot at me every single day. And he’s often succeeded. But it was still my fault. I’ve still consciously made the choice to watch things I shouldn’t watch, or look at pictures I shouldn’t look at. Pornography. And afterwards I often feel disgusted with myself, and feel like God doesn’t love me when I make a mistake like that.
But I have stopped beating myself up when I’ve failed. I just get up, dust myself off, confess my sin, ask for forgiveness and try again each day. I know He still loves me, even if He hates my sins. I am not good enough. Although we can never be good enough. We also can’t be stronger Christians on our own. Willpower is not enough. Trust me. I’ve tried and failed miserably many, many, times.
Relying on God’s grace helps. Praying for greater strength, and bravery to speak out helps too. And looking for opportunities to act more like Him, rather than just saying we’re Christians, is probably the biggest way we can impact a world that does not know Him.
Try your best to have a loving and patient heart with unbelievers. I have wonderful friends who I love and care about deeply, even though they don’t believe. They’re genuinely nice people. But I have never shamed them for their unbelief. Only prayed for them and tried to be nice in return. If they are open enough to it, I share Jesus with them. But I know it is God’s job to work on them. It’s only my job to be there for them and love them as Jesus does. I wait patiently for them, and let them know they can always feel safe with me. Like the creator of The Chosen, Dallas Jenkins often says:
It’s not your job to perform the miracle. It’s only your job to bring the five loaves and two fish.
Along with just being there for people who need us, we also shouldn’t underestimate the kind of impact it makes when we do small acts of kindness, like tipping a little more than usual, holding the door for a stranger, or simply smiling and saying hello to them. I do not consider myself a practicing Catholic anymore. But one of the sayings of the saint I chose at confirmation, Saint Francis of Assisi, has always stuck with me for the last 18 years since my confirmation. And that is:
Preach the Gospel and use words when necessary.
So while we should be brave, and call out evil and depravity that genuinely shocks us, we also need to love the world into following Jesus as well. But even if we live the right way, there will definitely be hard times along the road home. The world hates Jesus. And by extension, it hates everyone who associates with Him. But I remember this verse, and it helps me. John 16:33 is where Jesus says:
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
The Lord uttered those words during the Last Supper with His Apostles. At face value, Jesus was talking to them in the Upper Room the night before His Crucifixion. But this verse is so relatable to those of us who believe in Him over 2,000 years later. And if Jesus is who I believe He is, He knew we’d need it too. That’s why He said it!
Friends, the darkness in this world is growing. I can sense it more and more every day. It scares me and makes me sad. But it means several things: We need to rely more on Jesus than we ever have before. We need to be bold for Him, speak out for Him, and genuinely love others as He would.
And we need to pray earnestly and genuinely for His return. I’m scared of that day because I am in awe of what God will do to this earth. Even though I know it will be the greatest day in recorded history! He did so much for us while He walked this earth. Now He’s only got one thing left to do. May that day come soon!
God bless you all!Read more: Gaining strength through Jesus’ grace