Monday, August 25, 2014

Remember the Price Tag

I was on my long run this Saturday morning, the distance and pace being neither important nor impressive. Let's just say it was long enough to break out the mango slices halfway through. Out of all my workouts I enjoy the long run the best. It's a socially acceptable manner of being a recluse and ignoring the clamor of people. I usually spend the time listening to music as it helps keep my mind from playing tricks on my body to quit early.

This particular morning I was tuned to Slacker Radio's Fired Up Pop Hits channel. One song in particular captured my ears and thoughts. "Price Tag" by Jessie J is a catchy tune that speaks to the consumerism and selling out. I won't quote the whole song, but some of the lyrics are pretty profound.
Seems like everybody's got a price
I wonder how they sleep at night
When the sale come first
And the truth comes second
Why is everybody so obsessed?
Money can't buy us happiness
Can we all slow down and enjoy right now?
Guarantee we'll be feeling alright
It's not about the money
We don't need your money
We just wanna make the world dance
Forget about the price tag
I wholeheartedly agree with these words. It's interesting to me that this sentiment is coming from a non-religious artist. If I were to look around, how many churches can honestly bring the same message? How many pastors today are making the sale come first and the truth come second? How many holy organizations are too caught up with the fiscal statement and the vision statement? How many are so busy looking at the entire harvest field that they're losing sight of the individual stalks of wheat?

I wonder sometimes if the institution of church has anything to offer humanity other than fundamentalist dogmatism. Just last week I was speaking with a friend and he made reference to young Earth creationism and how thankful he was that the college he teaches at embraces the complete, unfiltered truthfulness of the Bible. I smiled and listened politely. But inwardly I wondered what he would think if he knew that I don't believe the Earth was created in six literal 24 Earth-hour days. That's a topic for another day. I think he reads this blog so I'll have a chance to see what he says.

I think there is an inherent danger in how church meets today. We come together every week and hear the same perspective given by the same people without bothering to hear other points of view. Sunday morning is dominated by a certain personality type with a certain denominational bend. If you happen to see things differently than your leaders, keep it to yourself or leave. Don't confuse the flock with nuance.

This balkenization of the body of Christ hurts. As followers of Jesus we need to be more comfortable with people who don't think the way we think. One of the pillars of Jesus' ministry was embracing those outside the ivory tower of institutional religion. We need to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. Above all we need to listen and love. I'm convinced that all truth is God's truth regardless of the mouthpiece he is using. And it seems that he loves to use the unlikely, the weak and the overlooked.

Don't just believe what someone says because of their title, office or education. Likewise don't discount something spoken just because of the source. Take time to think for yourself and figure out what you believe. Challenge your thinking and assumptions. Be on the look out for those moments for God to speak to your heart in unlikely ways. And treat those who differ from you with grace and respect.

I admire Jessie J's talent and appreciate her artistry. She caught a truth in her song. Life really is not about money. The giver of life doesn't need your money. He wants to make the world dance. That's why he sent his son. He provides a full pardon, full acceptance of who you are, complete love without strings attached. That's what makes his creation dance. If you are ever in doubt of his affection for you, remember the price he paid. Remember the price tag.


  1. The dangers of keeping it to one's self...for me that is a sucking whirlpool that can be hard to pull out if. It can turn into a very lonely place. A perceived loneliness. Surrounded by the church, busy and bustling, yet silent. Swirling in your thoughts and questions, caught in the trap of feeling that you can't express them or you might cause a rift. Rapids that can be hard to navigate when you don't even know if your life vest will float, let alone have a paddle in your hand.

    1. Praising God that all I need is to keep my eyes upon him to keep from sinking.