So, I guess Miley Cyrus did something crazy Sunday at the VMA’s. Something shocking. Something wild and grotesque. Something vulgar and disgusting. Something embarrasing and mortifying. (If you have not seen it I would not suggest watching it. Surely you can read about it instead).
Or was it something we should be applauding her for? Something we should salute as she stands for “freedom” of expression. Something we should chalk up as “burning off some steam” or “following her heart’s desires” or “being true to herself.”
Should we cheer her or jeer her?
Depends on who you listen to. All of the responses I just listed above have been on display from the news media and the blogosphere. If you want to find blogs making her the poster child of lack of discipline growing up you can find them. If you want to find a blog defending her actions as freedom of speech or expression you can find them, I’m sure. And no doubt within the comments on those blogs and the online news media stories you will find comments that range from hate, to love, to prayerful, to hopeful, to self-righteous judgement, sadness and outrage. It’s all there.
Many of the reactions of Christians has been intriguing as well. I’m really suprised at how many people are using Miley Cyrus as the “my daughter better never turn out like that” story. Don’t get me wrong: I have a beautiful, intelligent 8-year old daughter that would break my heart if she acted out the way Miley Cyrus has acted out.
But my question for myself as well as my neighbors is: what are we going to do about Miley Cyrus? Or better yet: What are we who profess to be disciples of Jesus going to do about the Miley Cyrus’ that we meet everyday.
Miley Cyrus in Your City
Every one of us knows a Miley. Sure, we may not know a famous celebrity who has been a celebrity since birth. But we’re not just appalled at her actions becuase she is a celebrity. Christ-followers and non-Christ followers alike are appalled because of her actions on national television. We are appalled that she would violate our homes with her display of her “freedom.” So, when someone in your school, your work, your community, your city, or even your family shows out like that how will you respond?
Will you jeer her?
I am not the first to say this but it bears repeating: Miley Cyrus is not professing to be a Christ follower and then going on MTV and acting out. MTV has never portrayed itself as anything other than what we saw displayed on Sunday night. Why are we surprised? I fear it’s because we still have some many Christians today that can’t grasp that we are NOT a Christian nation. And by the Bible’s standards we probably never were. One of our own founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, would literally cut out parts of the Bible he didn’t like. C’mon. And now we are shocked to see how far America has fallen that MTV can broadcast that showing of “freedom” on national television? And on a Sunday night of all nights?? That’s God’s day! Don’t they know? Please. We can’t be that naive.
So if our culture is clearly not a Christian culture and is spinning as far away from what would resemble Christ-likeness as quickly as it can what are we, as Christians, do?
For many of us our long-time strategy has been to invite our unbelieving friends to church. If we can muster up the courage to just invite them to church they might say yes and then hopefully the pastor can save them. We’ve done our part.
The problem with that strategy is this: while some people may still come from utter unbelief to your church the rebellious Miley Cyrus’ of this world and of your town will not come to your church.
Do you see the problem? Men and women; boys and girls who are in rebellion will not take the time to come to your church or my church. It may be because it’s imposing, or too judgemental, or too hypocritcal, or too uncomfortable. I’m not even saying it’s all the church’s fault. There are some (albeit few, statistically) churches who are doing it right in how they accept unbelievers as just what they are: unbelievers, and yet still the Miley’s won’t darken their doors. At least not at first.
Rethinking Mission: GOING TO the Miley’s of our culture
The solution is to rethink mission. Our main strategy can no longer be invite cards or gimicky giveaways to get people in the doors. We must GO OUT! We must go to them.
When I look at Scripture I see that God is a missionary God. And I am so glad that he is! The Father (God) sent Jesus as God in human form. Jesus basically left heaven, worship and adoration to wrap himself with human flesh to live among us.
Also, when I look at Scripture I see Jesus going to the people. Just a sampling of the Gospel according to Mark shows that Jesus drew people to himself and the largest miracles and working of Christ that reaped the greatest number of followers were done outside the walls of the local religious establishments (the synagogues). Just look at a quick breakdown below:
- Jesus casts out an evil spirit out of a man in the synagogue –> 1 person truly affected (Mark 1:21-28)
- Jesus leaves the synagogue and goes into the home of close friend and teaches and heals many –> many healed and delivered (Mark 1:29-39)
- From there he went to nearby villages and synagogues. The more he set people free the more “people came to him from everywhere” (Mark 1:45)
- Jesus heals a paralytic in a house –>many marveled (Mark 2:1-12)
- Jesus teaches beside a lake and calls a hated, sinful, cheating tax collector to be his disciple. The tax collector agrees and has Jesus over for dinner to meet many of his other “sinner” buddies. Jesus gladly obliges. (Mark 2:13-17)
- Jesus heals one person in synagogue on Sabbath and the religious hate him for doing it –> 1 person affected and many religious are jeering him (Mark 3:1-6)
- Large crowds follow Jesus to a lake again to hear him teach –>many impacted on their turf (Mark 3:7-12)
- “Jesus entered a house and again a crowd gathered” (Mark 3:20)
- Jesus, again teaches by a lake to a large crowd (Mark 4:1)
- Jesus heals a demon-possesed maniac who was roaming the tombs outside a city. Jesus then sends the man into the city to tell of his freedom from his destructive life. –>The crowd is amazed. (Mark 5:1-20)
- Jesus heals a woman on the city streets and then raises a girl back from the dead at ther house. (Mark 5:21-43)
- Jesus feeds thousands who came to hear him teach by the sea (Mark 6 & 8)
You see, Jesus’ ministry more often took him to country sides and city streets than inside the synagogues. It’s not because he didn’t love the people in the synagogues but that he was sent to us and came to us where we are.
And more people in the streets and the hillside cheered him while those in the synagogue jeered him.
Miley Cyrus’ antics this week reminded me how vital it is we be on mission everyday where God has us. We must take the good news of the Father’s unconditional acceptance of us as his children through the work of Christ’s substituionary death and resurrection to the world. Because the Miley’s in your life won’t come to your church. At least not until they meet Jesus on the outside.