Thursday, August 21, 2008

Yes Alanis, it IS ironic.

I hesitated to use that title because this isn't funny but I just couldn't think of anything else.

It all began about a month ago when I was spending some time on youtube looking for new worship songs. As a worship leader, I feel this is a good thing to do. sometimes you find a real gem. Anyways, I stumbled across this video of a song from the Hillsong folks down under. It was called "Healer." The song was pretty good but what really got me was the story behind the song. The guy who wrote it is a pastor down there and he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He was not given much time to live. After hearing the news, he went into his studio and began to write the song. The song is a declaration of faith that Jesus can heal him and that even in this very difficult situation, he will trust Jesus. Solid. The video of the performance kicks it up a notch. The dude is on stage with oxygen tubes up his nose. I even think he had a cane. Everyone who was interviewed was saying how that was the most incredible moment to sing the song with him. They felt like the presence of God was there in spades.

Then I read something today that shook me up a bit.

It was an article from an Australian newspaper talking about that pastor. He never had cancer. It wasn't that he was misdiagnosed, he lied about it. He made the whole thing up so he could inspire people with the song and the story. Nobody knew. Not even his own family.

And it made me sad.

Not angry, maybe a little frustrated, ok, a lot frustrated. But not angry. I understand weakness and the feeling like you have to have it all together. I hope that I am a person who can extend grace to those who need it. But at the same time, it makes me really sad.

Sad that we are so blind to what God is doing in our midst that we have to make it up. Sad that we might now even realize what God really wants for us. Sad that it seems like the norm is now for Christian leaders to commit scandal after scandal. Just sad.

Maybe behind the pretty light show, the huge venue, the 15 musicians on stage, the sound system that lets you get lost in the music, and the jumbo-tron screen with all the words, our "worship" is nothing more than a sham. Do we hide behind it all? How come when I watch those videos I wish I was part of that Band making that great sounding music for the thousands of people who have shown up. Why can't I remember that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Or that when two or three are gathered, He is there?

That is not to say that all the people who put on those concerts or who go to them are fakers, as I am sure there were plenty of people that night who needed to declare that Jesus is their healer. It's true. He is and I believe that. But what good is it all if people feel like they have to put on a show to help people connect with God? Even when that show is lying to your family. It is a dangerous thing to connect the worship of God with being entertained or entertaining. Very dangerous. Evil? maybe. I am not sure I am willing to go there just yet.

I am pretty sure that God said something like "Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" Maybe we ought to listen. Maybe I ought to listen . . . and name my blog after it.

Nevertheless, I hope and pray that he and his family find healing and restoration through this.

God, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.