Is God Culturally Relevant? (The Gospel According to Mick Jagger)
Perhaps many of us even struggle with this question.
So let's ask: Did Jesus not become flesh and blood? Does this not have real implications in the real world?
Perhaps many of us really lack the faith to expect that God engages us in this world. If so, it would seem faith really is an "opium of the people" (Marx), "excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet" (Napoleon), "founded upon fables and mythologies" (Jefferson).
Most intuitively know there's got to be more to God than external observance. There's got to be more than fleeting emotions. The truth of Jesus Christ has to find validation in lived, human experience.
A wake-up call to those who rely on the sufficiency of religious knowledge, tradition and practice: Jesus found more faith among the "pagans" ... surpassing that of the religious classes. He wasn't interested in cruise-control believers whose sufficiency was fortified by their high opinions of themselves ("The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself, 'O God! I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity...'" Luke 18:11). This was self-deception.
Jesus held up the children. He wants us to be fully alive in the simple acceptance of His real, saving presence and love. The seeds of real faith live in the hearts of those who believe enough not to settle, for those who hold high the standard of a relevant faith, a faith validated in lived, human experience.
For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, ask this question: Which commandment, which truth, which "law" has Christ revealed, the breaking of which has not left the breaker more broken? Think of decisions regarding sex, drugs and alcohol, greed, violence....
To those of you who aspire to this high standard, who will not settle for less than a relevant God who became one of us, I invite you to recognize the truth proclaimed not by evangelists, but within our popular culture and experience. As merely one representative example, consider the Gospel According to Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones):
Love and hope and sex and dreams
Are still surviving on the street
Look at me, I'm in tatters!
I'm a shattered
Laughter, joy, and loneliness and sex and sex and sex and sex
Look at me, I'm in tatters
I'm a shattered
Work and work for love and sex
Ain't you hungry for success, success, success, success
Does it matter? (Shattered) Does it matter?
Pride and joy and greed and sex
That's what makes our town the best
Pride and joy and dirty dreams and still surviving on the street
And look at me, I'm in tatters, yeah
I've been battered, what does it matter
Does it matter, uh-huh
Does it matter, uh-huh, I'm a shattered
Don't you know the crime rate is going up, up, up, up, up
To live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough, tough, tough!
You got rats on the west side
Bed bugs uptown
What a mess this town's in tatters I've been shattered
My brain's been battered, splattered all over Manhattan
Shattered/ Rolling Stones
Two things should be instructive here. First, it's abundantly clear that shattered is not a good thing. Who wants to be shattered? Illicit sex, greed, pride... these cultural icons are giving bold testimony that certain decisions and values lead to being shattered: "I'm in tatters." Isn't it a bit more than interesting that this scheme of things exactly corresponds to revelation in Christ? Hardly some external law with no implications for lived existence, but a testimony that what Christ revealed corresponds to our very design. Again, we can't really break the "law," only ourselves against the "law."
Secondly, assuming one doesn't want to be shattered, we are instructed to pursue the opposite of shattered. The opposite of shattered is "whole"- the root word "holy."
In short order, there we have it - the relevance of Christian faith powerfully proclaimed from the very epicenter of secular culture. For those with eyes to see, recognize here the truth revealed by Jesus Christ corresponds to the design of our nature, and offers the prospect for a full, human fulfillment. "See, I set before you life and prosperity, death and destruction..." (Dt. 30:15).
"Awake O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light" (Ephesians 5:14)
We are a generation seeking God for real. Join us for M2W. It's not for those who have it, but for those who recognize they don't. God is here. Come expecting great things.