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.