Monthly Archives: May 2016

Leaping to Embrace the Faith of Lady Gaga

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Recently, I read an article about Lady Gaga’s “radical faith.”  The author of the article extolled her for standing up for “her faith in Jesus, and for every person Jesus related to.”  The author assumed she is a Christian, but then curiously relegated Christianity somewhere beneath the “Gospel.”

Before extolling Lady Gaga’s bravery for standing up for her faith, perhaps we should delve into what her faith really is.  We are commanded to test the spirits to see if they are of God. I John 4:1.  First, her “radical faith” appears to begin with some form of Catholicism. lady-gaga-instagram Lady Gaga, born as Stefani Germanotta, posted a picture on Instagram of her with her priest.  She lauded his homily and highlighted a quote she connected with.  Her priest supposedly said “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but the food that God gives us.”  This comment is somewhat silly and does not come near describing the spiritual significance of the Eucharist.

Jesus first instituted this event just before his crucifixion and resurrection.  He used part of the Passover Seder to memorialize his sacrifice that was for the remission of our sins.  See Matthew 26:26-29 and Luke 22:19-20.  The Eucharist is about remembering Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection that our sins necessitated.  It is not about “the food God gives us.”  Lady Gaga’s priest either taught it wrong, or Lady Gaga misunderstood what he said.  Either way the comment and her approval of it demonstrate, at best, an immaturity in Christian doctrine.

What about what Lady Gaga says about her faith?  She said she believes in Jesus.  Mere belief in the existence of Jesus, however, is not enough to have a saving faith.  A saving faith is one that confesses with the mouth that Jesus is LORD and believes in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. Romans 10:9.  Making Jesus LORD of one’s life goes beyond saying “I believe in Jesus.”  It requires a surrender of our thinking and our behavior.  We agree with Jesus about our sin and our need for a savior.

James said that mere confession is nice.  Even the demons believe in Jesus, but they are smart enough to tremble. James 2:19.  James stated that a confession of faith is useless unless there are works that prove a true confession. James 2:20.

Can we know if Lady Gaga has a true confession?  Isn’t that judging, and aren’t we supposed to avoid judging?  These questions, you’ve probably all heard, and perhaps uttered, betray a misunderstanding of scripture.  Matthew 7:1 is offered in isolation, usually by people who have not read any other part of Scripture, in order to condemn “judging.”  They fail to read the entire chapter to where Jesus warned us to be discerning (i.e. to judge) when people come to us with doctrines that are false.  “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:19-20.

We can often know if someone has a true confession. True confession is accompanied by good works.  Also, someone’s belief in their heart can be measured by the things they say.  Jesus said “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Luke 6:45.

What are some things Lady Gaga has said that indicates what is in abundance in her heart?  She said “I am spiritual, I pray.”  A lot of people are spiritual. Hindus are spiritual.  Atheists are spiritual, although they would deny it.  Praying may indicate an inclination to the spiritual, but to whom does she pray?  What does she pray about?  Being religious or spiritual does not make one right with God.

She said that all religions, which presumably includes Christianity, teach hate.  She laments that all religions practice bigotry against racial groups, other religious groups, even sexual groups.  “I’m a very religious woman who is confused about religion.”  Even the most mature Christian has questions about the faith from time to time.  However, Lady Gaga’s confession demonstrates she really hasn’t considered the truth of Christianity.  She seems to be forging her own spiritual path that includes only what is convenient.

Lady Gaga goes gaga for gay rights in Washington DC

She is a loud voice for the championing of homosexual behavior.  Her song “Born This Way” is an ode to the lie that homosexuality is an inherent, natural trait.  It celebrates the sin of loving a “different lover” but insists it’s not a sin because “God makes no mistakes.”

She used the example of the woman caught in adultery to show that Jesus loves and protects people and does not judge them. She misunderstands Jesus.  Jesus demonstrated love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us. But, he had to die because of our sin.  That is a pretty serious indictment on mankind.  Our sin cost us the death of God the Son.  Lady Gaga’s understanding of Jesus does not seem to grasp him in his totality. Jesus didn’t just love the woman caught in adultery.  He did in fact “judge” her by recognizing her sin.  What Lady Gaga left out was Jesus saying to the woman “Go and sin no more.”

The love of Jesus did not leave the woman caught in adultery unchanged. In fact, it is the love of Jesus that compels our change.   Yes, Jesus offers forgiveness, and his blood paid for it.  But what I did not read in the comments from Lady Gaga or in the article by Carlos Rodriguez was the word “repentance.”  There is no forgiveness without repentance.  Repentance is agreeing with God about the nature of our sin.  Repentance sees our sin for the wickedness that it is.

The pastor who wrote the article misses the mark in trying to embrace the “radical faith” of a celebrity.  He warns us not to question her faith because Jesus “said to focus on the log in our eye and not the splinter in Gaga’s.”  This pastor, who admits his confusion about religion and insists the “Gospel” and Christianity are different, ignored the point Jesus was making.  This pastor paraphrases Matthew 7:3-4 without finishing Jesus’ thought.  In verse 5 Jesus said to first take out the log from your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. The point Jesus was making was not to never be concerned with the splinter in a person’s eye.  Jesus said that we must remove the similar obstacles in our own lives in order to clearly help those who are struggling with their issues.  The point is about being right with God in order to help others get right with God.

The pastor applauded Lady Gaga’s “experience with God’s tender love and mercy.” I have been a Christian a long time.  In my nearly 40 years of being a Christian, I have matured in the faith.  In that maturity I have discovered Christianity is not about having an experience with God. Experiences are emotionally driven and wear off.  Experiences are of little value unless they transform our minds.

Christianity is about us recognizing our depravity and our utter incapability to be righteous on our own. It is about understanding our need for a Savior. I do not hear that in Lady Gaga’s comments. I do not see the surrender to Jesus in her public life. AND, Jesus in fact did tell us to judge a person by their fruits. See Matthew 7 (the entire chapter, not just verse 1). Her heart might be tender toward Jesus, but she appears to misunderstand who he is and why we need to have our sins forgiven. Her “radical faith” seems to miss the mark as does Carlos Rodriguez’s praise of it.

I know this post is not an emotional, feel-good word.  It’s not meant to be harsh.  But, it is the truth.  It is offered in love.  We are not to be transformed by the renewing of our hearts, but of our minds.  Romans 12:2.  Let us not be too hasty in leaping to embrace the professions of faith from famous people and pop culture icons.  Understanding right doctrine and who Jesus really is will keep our hearts from deceiving our minds about the “radical faith” of celebrities.

Jesus: Redeemer and Judge

Running
I find that a lot of my spiritual insights come as I’m running.  I lace up my sneakers, strap on my phone, plug in my earphones, and pump up the worship tunes.

I hate running.

Running has to have a point.  To avoid a disaster.  To get around the bases as fast as you can.  To move the ball up the field.  To escape a mob.

Trump JesusThat’s why I ran away from the Trump 2016!!! crowd.  The mob mentality.  I supported Ted Cruz, not because I liked Cruz so much.  It’s because he espoused principles that I hold.  Principles like limited government, states’ rights, fiscal responsibility, constitutional integrity, religious liberty.*

I won’t get into why into why I think the Trump phenomenon is a “mob mentality.”  The point of this post is about my reaction to the phenomenon.

Anyway, I hate running.  I’m not built like a long distance runner.  I’m built more like a full-back, “very dangerous over short distances.”  Sometimes I feel like Gimli in The Two Towers when I run any distance greater than the length of the basketball court.

My job requires I be fit.  So I run.  But when I run, I make it an act of worship, so there is a point to it.  I listen to songs that worship Jesus.  In fact, right now I’m listening to Chris Tomlin’s “All to Us.”

Worshiping God during my running has led to many spiritual insights for me.  There is something about worshiping God that helps me to think clearly.

This morning, while running, Chris Tomlin’s song “Jesus, My Redeemer,” played.  As the song came to the part

No other one so glorious
You outshine the sun
No other love like Jesus
You outshine the sun

I began to think about the Trump phenomenon and about how many people think Trump is the Savior of the republic, the One to “Make America Great Again.”

“But, they’re wrong,” I thought.  “He will be the destroyer of the republic.”

Then I began to think again.  “No, I’m wrong too.  If Trump does not have the power to be the savior, then he does not have the power to be the destroyer.”

That changed my perspective entirely.  Only Jesus can rescue our nation.  Only Jesus has the power to be the destroyer of our republic.  In no other name is there such power and authority.

Our focus this election season should not be in the abilities of men to save us.  Absolutely we should choose the best people to be our public servants, and we have chosen poorly this year.  We have chosen poorly because we have focused on men as our savior, and we have believed our malady is merely bad public policies.  But our problem is not bad policies.  Bad policies are only a symptom of our problem.  Our ailment is our sin.

The comfort of our lives has made us make peace with our sin.  Because the Church is comfortable with our own sin, the World hates us for pointing out theirs.  They are in full rebellion against God.  Creating same-sex “marriages,” allowing men in women’s bathrooms, laughing about selling dead-baby parts, praising the “courage” of men who want to dress up like women.  The nation is hell-bent on destruction, and it’s not going to be Trump’s fault.

It’s going to be ours, the Church’s fault.

But, the situation is never so bleak when we, the Church, finally agree with God about the nature of our own sinful condition.  Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become his righteousness in a world that is going to hell.  Jesus has reconciled us with the Father so that we can be ambassadors of reconciliation to a dying world. See II Corinthians 5:17-21.

Trump is not the savior, nor the destroyer of the republic.  Only Jesus has the authority and power to do that.  But, I believe Jesus has given us the ability to make his decision for him, whether to redeem our nation or destroy it.

Which will you choose?  Live lives of comfort and compromise?  Or of righteousness and reconciliation?

As for me and my house, we will choose righteousness and reconciliation over comfort and compromise.

_________________
*We can have a discussion what these mean and why I call these “principles.”  But, for this post I do not have the time to have that discussion.