Jesus, Love & Rock Star Hair.

rock-star-hair-products

A little over a year ago, I had a strange thing happen in the middle of one particular church experience.  I walked in open-minded but quickly got this sick feeling that I didn’t belong.  As their service progressed, I started getting an even sicker feeling that if Jesus Himself walked into the middle of that service, even HE wouldn’t have met the cool factor that had become the culture of that church.  The vibe communicated clearly to me that the ’20-something’ segment of that crowd had become a little like the rich man Jesus urged us not to favor over the poor (or aging, or non-conformist…) Mind you, I LOVE being around the cool kids of the world.  But that day it was very obvious that I wasn’t one of them and, therefore, not really wanted there. I sat there hurting while a group of 40-something leaders did a ‘dog and pony show’ to appeal to people half their age.  In doing so, they came off entirely inauthentic. (Please know, I’m not judging their motives here… this is just my impression of their methods.)

That said, I believe Jesus’s cool factor is off the charts.  During his time on earth he blew people out of the water with his originality.  NO ONE could draw a crowd like He could.  Before the days of internet and Ticketmaster – heck, even before the days of seating – He could pack a hillside with thousands upon thousands of people from all segments of society using nothing more than word-of-mouth communication.  He didn’t rely on carefully worded mission statements, create social media networks or conduct surveys to see how he could appeal to them aesthetically.   He also didn’t rot in tradition and narrow-minded thinking like the religious minority of that day.  He did dare to look into the eyes and hearts of people, even when it hurt.  He did listen with His heart… tell stories to their children… offer water to the thirsty.  He did dare to ask penetrating questions.  He came not just to ‘appeal’ but to heal… forgive…  redeem.   His ‘target market’ was not a target market.  His target was every needy heart – whether or not they knew it.

I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t draw thousands to the hillside because He had rock star hair or florescent white teeth.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE rock star hair and beautiful teeth – and maybe He had both.  But that wasn’t his ‘Ace’ card.  Might have turned a few heads (including mine) but hello?? Crowds would’ve been outta there fast if they had to sit on rocks for anything short of ‘riveting’.  But what’s more riveting than personalized love?  Grace?  Forgiveness?  Oh, and redemption!  Redemption’s my favorite.  But talk about an ugly process! That one is saved only for those courageous enough to roll up their sleeves and let Him rock their world on the inside, where it counts.

Being intentional in ministry is imperative.  I’ve sat through lots of those ‘behind-the-church-scenes’ meetings.  What we’ve got going for us, Church, is a Gospel that does have a relevant place in the trenches of real life. That’s a really good place to start.  But that Gospel attracts all kinds of people.  We’ve got to be ready for that.

I also think young “pretty people” are fabulous.  In fact, I’d love to be one of them.  I work a solid 45 minutes a day toward that end (which, I might add, gets harder every day as time takes its toll).  But like it or not, having an impact on society for eternity isn’t about appearances or our sweet moves.  It’s about a life-altering Person we know personally and are willing to communicate by whatever means necessary.

Being led by His Spirit is more up-to-the-minute than Twitter (I know, hard to believe, but He isn’t bound by the limits of years, hours, minutes or nano-seconds).  His mercy is absolutely timeless – a renewable resource, coming to us live every single morning.  His love is hotter than pop charts because it alienates no one.  And nothing but NOTHING is sweeter than that.

11 thoughts on “Jesus, Love & Rock Star Hair.

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  1. Oh yeah. I accepted awhile ago that I will never be one of the ‘cool kids,’ and it amazes me when I am at a church or gathering of ‘Christians’ and manage to feel like a geeky outsider.

    Your last paragraph is most amazing! PS: I would love to publish this in SGN Scoops / http://www.sgnscoops.com

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  2. Your fresh approach and your purity of heart makes everything you write such a blessing. Knowing how sweet you are just adds to the joy.

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  3. You “Rock” Emily..You always seem to help me see things in such a pure and beautiful light! Thank You for using your gift and blessing me!!

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  4. Emily,

    The most amazing church experience I ever had was in 1987 when I saw a drag queen walk into the sanctuary before the service started. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her/him. First of all, she was drop dead gorgeous—so not fair. Secondly, I was blown away by the courage this person had to show up to this evangelical church.

    As the pastor was praying to close the service, I felt movement in front of me and sure enough, the drag queen was departing the sanctuary before the clock struck noon. I ran after her/him and said, “wait, wait!” I caught him in the stairwell. “I just wanted to thank you for coming and to let you know that Jesus loves you just as you are.” He started to cry with tears rolling down his face. He said, “no, there’s no hope for me.” I said, “Yes, with Jesus there is hope for you.” He told me his name was Debby and I encouraged him to contact the church staff for encouragement and counsel. I gave him a hug and told him I would pray for him.

    Do you know what God told me after this experience? He said, “Callie, you believe that I have the grace and power to forgive and heal Debby and I do. But you don’t believe that I can forgive and heal you!” Wow. I don’t remember what the pastor taught that Sunday, but I’ll never forget my conversation with a drag queen named Debby.

    —Callie Kniceley

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  5. Emily,

    Your writng is amazing my friend! You hit the thoughts that have been rambling around my noggin for the last three months since I found out that my church was moving to a “Contemporary” Service in the hour that I had been going to for the last 2 years. I was heartbroken but did understand that we had to appeal to the teens, 20-somethings, and early 30-somethings with toddlers, but when it affects MY schedule, we tend to think, why didn’t they do this to the OTHER service or whatever. The ladies class that I had been a part of for two years disbanded because of it and felt that I was losing a huge part of my family. God is good and I’m now in another good class but it isn’t the same. When I was growing up my parents would go to small Pentecostal churches and (maybe 25-30 people max) I never felt I fit in. That style of worship just wasn’t me and never will be. I, too was never one of the “Cool kids” and never will be and have accepted that. God loves us just like we are and wants us to accept and embrace how he made us.

    God bless you for your wonderful words!
    Karen

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  6. Thanks Emily – wise and eloquent as usual.
    I love the Church – I love that we are all so different but we are all family, because we all share the same Father. There is a bond of faith, of love and of grace that unites us all. I find it so sad when churches develop ‘cliques’, and people are made to feel inferior.
    The world values ‘cool’, it values ‘pretty’, it values financial status, and it certainly does NOT value people. At least 95% of people therefore never feel good enough.
    Maybe if the church stopped trying to attract people by being like the world, and just told people the gospel – that God loves them, values them and sent his son to die for them; maybe if we showed them that we have a completely different value system to the world; maybe if we could love people like Christ loves them; then maybe more and more people will experience the miracle of redemption that we long to share with them.

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  7. An important message that I have heard from the pulpit in my church and that I have believed in my heart and tried sharing over the years is that God created each of us exactly as He intended us to be. What need do I have of make up and plastic surgery and fancy clothing? I have what He created me to be. And He doesn’t make mistakes. Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy “girling up” from time to time. But I base none of my self -worth or job effectiveness or parenting worthiness on my appearance. I wouldn’t have fit into this church you described… not because I’m older than the 20-somethings… but because I see no point in putting on any airs about how I look representing who I am.

    Thank you for this!

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