When I was a kid, I remember preachers saying something like, “What if Jesus wanted to come to your house… this very day! How embarrassed would you be about what He’d find?”
Would there be magazines you’d be embarrassed were on the coffee-table? Better pick those up. Wouldn’t He be sadly disgusted by your copy of TV Guide? (By the way, that was an actual little magazine that told us what was on each of our three channels, and… no one’s going to understand this.)
Would He see the beach towel with the beer company logo? Hmmm? What then? Whatever you do, don’t let Jesus see the Bud Light towel.
HIDE THE BUD LIGHT TOWEL FROM JESUS.
I wondered if Jesus would be offended when He found the Lincoln Logs I merely slid under my bed when I was supposed to be cleaning my room. So busted. And worse, I wondered – especially after puberty: “What if I met Jesus, and He knew my dirty thoughts? I almost can’t NOT have dirty thoughts, especially when I’m trying not to have dirty thoughts! I’m full of dirty thoughts, and Jesus is going to know it, and He’ll walk out before He can even be offended by the Lincoln Logs.”
Or, worse, maybe He’ll also be disgusted that I’m a pubescent who’s still playing with Lincoln Logs.
I hated this scenario.
There’s this guy I met once with a really interesting job: He counsels celebrities. Nashville musicians, mainly. Artists who are marketed to church folks, and big-time country music headliners.
So I asked him this: “What is it they’re really looking for? I mean, really, what do these people, who are always being applauded and admired, want from you?”
He didn’t hesitate. That’s easy, he said.
“They want me to know them. The real them. They want someone, anyone, to truly know them, and love them anyway.”
Makes sense. They perform, and even when they’re applauded, they know it’s not the real them being applauded. It’s sort of them, but better. They have lights and smoke and real-time pitch correction. We all look cooler with lights-n-smoke. (By the way, idea: Personal Portable Lights-n-Smoke Set, just to look awesome during daily tasks.)
And here’s the problem for musicians marketed to Christians: You have to deal with your sinfulness, versus the impression you give people. Your conscience will be heard. You can either ignore it, and do what so many high-profile (and low-profile!) professing believers do, which is learn to compartmentalize and live a double-life. Or, a second option:You can be overrun with guilt, wondering, deep down, how God could possibly love you, the Big Stage Christian Hypocrite.
Thankfully – because, let’s face it, we’re all “performers’ – there’s a third option: We can really believe that God knows our thoughts, the very dirtiest, most hateful, most vile, unloving, traitorous ones… and still loves us. Not “loves” as in “tolerates”, or “loves” as in merely sees how pathetic we are and doesn’t zap us. I mean “loves”, as in “loves”.
This stuff is all over the Bible, too.
“But Jesus knew their thoughts, and…”
“But Jesus perceived their malice, and…”
“But He knew what they were thinking, and…”
“But He knew their thoughts, and…”
And… wanted to be with them. And… died for them. He hung around a bunch of dirty-minded men, and told them He was going to prepare a place for a big party… with them.
Jesus once invited himself over to a notorious sinner’s house. Everybody grumbled that He would do such a thing. But the host was humble, and the meal went great.
If Jesus came to my house today I think He’d read my thoughts, and He’d think, “Yep, there’s a human. I love humans.”
He’d see my kids’ paintings and photos and my puppets and we’d make some toast. He’d probably see our refrigerator with the Compassion kids we sponsor, and tell us how much He loves them, and some things about them so we could know them better. And he’d see our magnet with a photo of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, and talk about how much He loves them, too.
And I’d be thinking, “My God, He knows my selfishness and evil thoughts and He’ll still talk to me. About the Beatles, no less.”
It’s funny how grace turns everything upside down: If I’m trying to avoid God, or trying to impress Him with my religiosity, the fact that He knows what I’m thinking is a frightful one. But if I’m humble, if I already know I’m “busted”, that fact goes from frightful to THE BEST NEWS EVER.
He still loves me.