Since I have a blog and I’m a pastor I guess I’m supposed to talk about this whole Miley Cyrus/VMA thing. If the over saturation on social-media hasn’t made you numb I have a few thoughts I’d like to share that may be a bit unique.
I didn’t watch the VMA’s on Sunday night. It’s not because I wasn’t interested or that I’m too old for it (though both of those things may have been true) it was because I was in Jeremie, Haiti on the last night of a missions trip serving with Haiti Bible Mission. Sunday was a pretty full day for us – we woke up when the sun rose with each of us independently spending time reading the Bible and praying. That morning we partnered with a 3 month old church plant that spends the last Sunday of every month out serving in their community instead of meeting for worship. This Sunday they served by taking food and water to the hospital and praying for those who are in desperate need of a healing that the medical professionals in Haiti most likely will not be able to provide. I won’t go into details but here are some pictures of what we experienced – you can see for yourself.
That afternoon we took some of the money that we had brought with us to buy, prepare and serve food to 80 of HBM’s poorest neighbors. Have you ever seen kids eat rice, veggies and a little meat like they don’t know where their next meal like this is going to come from? That picture will stick with you for a while.
Sunday night while Miley was Twerking and Robin Thicke was Creeping we were sitting on the roof of the mission compound working through what we’d seen, experienced and how God was calling us to further movement when we returned to Cleveland. I heard one 19 year old girl commit to raising $3,000 to help buy fans and a generator for the children’s wing of the hospital that was easily ninety degrees when we visited. Another 21 year old girl said that after seeing the impact a few tarps made in the lives of a few families she sensed God calling her to come home and collect hundreds if not thousands of tarps to cover leaky roofs throughout Jeremie so that families could sleep safely and soundly.
It wasn’t until we got our first taste of wifi in 7 days on Monday morning that any of us had any idea that Sunday night there was a party in the USA at the VMA’s. Since returning home I’ve seen or read hundreds of posts, updates and what not talking about how wrong the performance was (which it was) and how we’re supposed to talk to our kids about it so that we can hopefully raise children that won’t be exhibitionists or sexual predators – and I’m sure all those conversations are super important but I think maybe the answer is inviting them into a more meaningful story that has Kingdom impact and gets them to look past themselves and find meaning and acceptance in things they were made to experience.
As parents, as leaders, as Christ followers it’s not enough to point to what’s bad (or disgusting or perverted) in our culture and tell our youth to steer clear. It is our job to model something better in following Jesus to dangerous, dirty, hurting, broken places and inviting them to come lay down their lives with us. You don’t have to go to a third world country to find these things either – for most of us it’s next door or down the street – it’s just real easy to miss when we’re obsessed with whatever crazy thing is going down on our TVs. Lately in Christian circles we’ve claimed we want to be known more for what we’re for than what we’re against. I would guess the same principle would be effective when it comes to an over sexualized culture but the answer isn’t to sit around and talk about Biblical sexuality and which bathing suits are modest enough (though those are fine conversations) the answer is to offer our youth (and your kids) something more compelling – more important – but to do that we have to live those lives first.
I have two young daughters. I pray they never do the things that everyone is upset about Miley Cyrus doing Sunday night either on stage, at their friends house or in some secluded location where the world may never know but my prayers are greater than protection of innocence – my prayer is that they would grow up and be adventurous world changers empowered by the Holy Spirit going to dangerous, dirty, dark places offering food, health, help and salvation by the power of the Gospel – and I pray that I would be willing to have God do the same things in and through me, Meri and our whole family so they know what real abundant life looks like and invite them to really live! I don’t think it means we won’t have to talk about these kinds of things – I’m sure I will – but I’m thinking (and praying) it just might make that kind of living look a lot less compelling.