Nasal hair and other Godly matters

I think it was a Hillsong video. A GodPopProduction. The pious righteous faces. The pained expression of love and burden and saved. The fade in/fadeouts. The visual prompts technically superb and perfectly interleaved. The pullbacks to the rapt audience. The perfect young people. All good looking. All visually the right stuff. All using that salute. The Hitler salute. With the palms turned the other way. All with the gentle sway. The love sway and salute. Always the love. The God Love packaged and trimmed and PopProduced for God. Squeezed out like too much cream on a big fat cream cake. WE LOVE YOU GOD!

I had time to note all of this.

I always have time to note every tiny detail. Because every time – every time!! – someone pops a GodPopProduction on the telly – the rest of us must not speak, move, burp, look bored, suggest a vomit bucket is needed – or be irreverent in any way at all.

And that is what bugs me.

What bugs me is having my relationship with my God hijacked and manipulated. By a glossy PopProduction. By a bunch of words someone wrote. By a few notes someone cobbled together. By a few instruments working together. By a very expensive and highly skilled production crew juicing, rejuicing and rejuicing again every last turbo-charged ounce of oozy dripping sentiment. Sentiment dressed up perfectly as God.

In any other art form that much rejuicing would be a bit yeuchy. A fine painting? Too much of this, too much of that. A written story? Too much of the crass heart poppers and not enough real. A music video? Yep – just like the boppy music with underdressed ladies shaking their booty. Too much.

But GodPopProductions? You can never have enough of God! Are you with us or against us? Are you for God (and a proper Christian like us) or against us (and a Sinner who can’t be in my club).

I have nothing against GodPop. Some of it I quite enjoy. Some of I play quite loud when I am working. Some of it brings me tears from time to time. Just like “PopPopProductions” do. A fine lyric, a touching chord, an inspired riff. They get me the same way. They bring a lump to my throat.

Yet the list of GodPopPlayers? Seems to me they have been given the same idol status as we good Christians preach against in the “commercial world”. Any lyric by one of the GodPopPlayers is now cool and godly. No matter how rubbish a song it would be in the wider world. Just like some of the older hymns that have neither tune nor words that work. Just like (a preacher of the bible belt) whose repetitive repetition of one word “sanctified” ramped up the hypnotic adoration of his audience.

We like our idols. We like our group highs. We like our God coated in cream. We like Him at a distance with us in the audience. Makes Him unattainable. Makes Him perfect. Makes us Sinners. Makes us Saved. Makes us Righteous. Group righteous. And if we are in a group all doing the same thing – we must all have “got it” – I must “have got it” – hallelujah me!

And after the GodPopProduction?

The topic was good stuff. Highlights. Individual stories of relationship. That was fun – that was inspiring – that was real people. Then the topic was directed to the usual comfort zone: a prayer list of needs and a shopping list for God: burden and counting – bums on seats, how many new converts, how many attendees, how little funding, how many problems. It was my Jesus Bus as I have never seen it before. It was the Jesus Bus management style. A god filled, god lead, god guided organisation working within and across the churches. Burdened by the churches lack of provision. Hindered by the lack of finances. Burdened by so few giving so much.

It is a thread under the surface I keep seeing in Kingdom Workers.

And once again I was left pondering. Individually we get on great with God. Individually we are all good people. Individually we work.

The issues begin when the body of Christ gathers together and “the leadership head” rises to the top. And stays there. Makes itself responsible. Responsible for the Body of Christ. Responsible for being busy doing Kingdom Work. Responsible for the bottom line.

That causes me two problems in my walk with God.

* “The head” is not “the head” –

It is hair, two ears, one nose, two cheekbones, one neck, a chin, a mouth full of teeth, a tongue, loads of skin requiring pampering and maintenance (in one way or another) … and a brain without a heart … with no ability to speak. Not without a good pair of lungs working and joined up. And a heart pumping. And all the blood to be pumped. And … and … and …

The “head” is just a bunch of stuff – and missing so much that is vital to being of any use at all. But the head generally does not acknowledge that. The head is generally so busy organising and diarising and rushing around doing kingdom work that the head gets a little isolated. From the body.

* “The head” is not closer to God –

It may even be further away as it worries about responsibility and keeping everything together for God … for the rest of the body … keeping us focused on saving The Lost World … feeding back stats … bums on seats … successes … needs … problems. Maybe. Or maybe not.

And as I ponder these things a thought rises … an ambition.

If I ever am guided to be “a head” – I want to be the nasal hair of a grumpy old man. Not the brain. Not the clever stuff. Not the busy responsible burden and sacrifice stuff.

The nasal hair that keeps poking out and looking embarrassing. The stuff that gets checked in the mirror and trimmed back out of sight. The stuff you always keep your eye on because you never know when it might appear. Might take you by surprise and prick your bubble. That “how do I look” image we nurture for others and our own self-esteem. That image we all cultivate – one way or another.

I think I would make good nasal hair!

And for any Jesus Bus friends who might read this, who might be part of the Jesus Bus management style … I love you so much. Just as I love the Jesus Bus, and the faith and dedication of all those keeping the bus on the road.

And I hope I behaved last night. Enough.


17 thoughts on “Nasal hair and other Godly matters

  1. Clever, clever, clever, Paul. Like Mark said you would make good nose hair. 😀. Living in a dorm room for the past 9 days away from my hygienic secure environment at home with a bunch of 20-30 year old guys has made me see this very much. These people are on fire to tell the world about Jesus and what He has done for them and will do for them. Last night we went to a gym where the locals play basketball. We played the locals and beat them btw. They asked what is JFJ because it is all over our tee shirts we wear. This gave the opportunity for us to share Jesus with a team of basketball players. It was stinky, sweaty, loud, but they all listened and many were quite interested to hear more. Quite the different way of thinking of how to talk about Jesus in the controlled environments we create. Nice post Paul.

    • Levi – what a lovely reflection. “It was stinky, sweaty, loud, but they all listened and many were quite interested to hear more.” I can imagine Jesus and the disciples saying something similar after another hard slog through the dust. I am so loving your NYC adventure!!

      And thanks for the nose hair comment! I am quite attached to mine!! 🙂

  2. In any event, you win the prize for most catchy blog title!

    And… I’m relieved to finally find someone who has the same reaction to GodPop that I have… too much!

    • Don, there are times I type and hear an imagined intake of breath in my head. The GodPop words today were such an occasion. He just shrugs and looks bored 🙂
      (I am listening to some right now – and like all things I find I like some and not others. Listening as background is fun – not so keen on the milked multi-media packages and all the “baggage”)

  3. As you have said before, Paul, I love this church I get to be a part of. Nose hair and all (you smell pretty good).
    Such pondering you stir in my heart – as Jack Nicholson once said (his character in a movie) – “You make me want to be a better man”……
    Keep up the great posts.
    cate b

    • Cate – thank you. You are more of film buff than me – Jack and me go back to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest! 🙂

      Thank you for the encouragement!!

  4. Nasal hair, huh? I admit the title got me running over here to read!
    I tend to feel uncomfortable at “packaged worship,” or frankly even live worship when everyone looks like magazine models. Where are the hefty, the old, the plain, the tattooed, the unattractive? These are the folks in Jesus’ camp who look like me, yet they seem to be nowhere in sight on church stages leading Sunday worship or shepherding service.
    Nasal hair? Maybe. I’ll take just plain folks like us. The ones Jesus came to heal and save.

    • Come to England. We have plenty of those leading worship here! 🙂
      And the “packaged”? We are as one on that. I have nothing against the doing of – just the baggage of having to go along with “being awed” all the time. Emperors clothes kind of stuff (Michael Buble gets a similar reaction – but takes himself far less seriously).
      And if I ever turn into real nasal hair – well I hope the good lord understands “tongue in cheek” before that happens! 🙂

  5. Oh, how I loved this!

    Yes sometime our “church” is just too much, too much so for the outsider to believe in a “real” unorchestrated relationship with our Father based on how “Godly” is presented to others.

    Vomit bucket?!! Have you been talking to my son?!

    Too perfect, too orchestrated, to much within the lines for anyone on the outside who dares to look in and if that is the only glimpse of God they think they see, well how can their imperfection join all of that orchestrated perfection? When we are our real selves, real people can see the very REAL God within us, flaws and all. Levi’s comment is a prime example. It doesn’t take all of that “show” for God move among us, through us and use us!

    Those stray hairs keep things in perspective, keep us humble and grounded, allow us not to think too highly of ourselves, keep us in the body and not presumptively above it. Coming from a gal living in the middle of the Bible Belt 🙂

    • Lilka, I am liking your son more and more!! 🙂

      And I have heard the Bible Belt as a label my whole life. Bit like the eighth wonder of the world. Haven’t seen the pyramids yet, haven’t seen the Bible Belt yet.

      Here’s to stray hairs, keeping it real, and helping us all stay grounded … And to sharing Levi’s coffee meister NYC adventures … And to all the love and fun yet to share!!

      🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. My Dear Friend.

    Your posts never cease to amaze me. I dont know why. I wait for it. Expect it. And yet the shock still creeps up from behind and grabs me! You are a wonderful engaging writer Paul. I wasnt going to post a comment. Im so busy today. But for you i shall.
    Wonderful post and even though i read it early this am i came back to tell you that creating an analogy of yourself to nose hairs is gross and fantastic at the same time. Only you would think of that make no mistake !

    • Katie, thank you. Your words, your posts, are always so full of God, so full of love. Yet this comment I have savoured. Leaving a reply until bedtime and lights out. Just wondering what it is He does that makes ordinary words ripple – and then ripple back with such special words as yours here. Come to the conclusion – again – I don’t need to know. So just a very special “Thank You”. It is a lovely way to end the day. Goodnight to you and Him.

      Night night 🙂

  7. Oh, boy, did you hit a nerve with me. I could not agree more. I get so tired of the “hype. When the “hype” is over, what is left. My town hosts an annual Christian concert. Honestly, I couldn’t tell what was different about it than any other “rock” concert. I’ve never heard the phrase “GodPop” but I love it. I always felt like I was out-of-touch because I just didn’t get all the “Rah, Rah” stuff. Nice to know I’m not alone.

    Also love the part about the “head”. My husband and I have this conversation often. Those at the top seem to feel they’ve got all the answers and the rest of us have to go along.

    Anyway, loved this post. Thanks for your honestly. Oh, and thanks for the follow.

    • Rebecca, thank you for stopping by. Quite how the nasal hair popped out I have no idea. On the day it made perfect sense. 🙂
      And the GodPop does grind with me as well. Perfectly good tunes – some of them, words that are okay – some of them. Yet …

      And your words: your last post has stayed on my mind. You have style and courage!! It resonated (and that is the word I couldn’t find when I was reading).

      I hope we get to know each other better in the coming weeks and months!! 🙂

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