in some ways you’re just like all your friends

i’m pretty sure that if you could ask google, “who is the most polarizing person in the world right now?” the response would be, “miley cyrus.” i’m completely serious. on one side of it you’ve got teenage girls sticking up for miley and saying everyone shouldn’t be picking on her. they say everyone else just doesn’t understand what she’s going through or they don’t get what it’s like to be hurt from a relationship. on the other side of the coin you have anyone with a brain.

two weeks ago there was an article on buzz feed titled, “are people talking more about miley cyrus or syria.” starting on august 25th (the night of the vmas), miley was talked about more than syria every day until august 31. what happened that day? president obama gave a speech on syria. a day later the talk was back to miley.

miley is everywhere.

miley is on everyone’s lips.

miley’s lips are on a sledge hammer.

i could write three or four different posts having to do with miley’s gospel, and i may come back and hit on them in the future, but there’s one specific part of her gospel that i want to hang out on today. that part comes from four lines in her song entitled we can’t stop. those lines are:

to my home girls here with the big butt / shaking it like we at the strip club / remember only god can judge ya / forget the haters cause somebody loves ya

now, before we go any further, let me go ahead and clear up one little item: there’s nothing wrong with shaking what your momma gave you. doing it like you’re at a strip club? eh. save it for the bedroom when you’re married. at that point, shake it like you’re at the strip club whenever you want to, as much as you want to.

miley gets part of this right. however, miley’s gospel is rooted in a bad word choice and a totally wrong interpretation of matthew 7:1. where she gets it right is that god is the only person who can condemn us, but there is a huge difference between judging and condemning.

in miley’s world, anyone who makes any type of characterization of someone’s actions is condemning that person. in her eyes, there is no separation between judging an action and condemning a person. a judgment of a person’s actions is a condemnation of that person.

the truth is our actions aren’t always who we are. i make a lot of really, really dumb mistakes. i say things that i shouldn’t. i think things that i’d be embarrassed about if you knew them. i treat people in ways i’m not proud of. thankfully my actions are not completely indicative of who i am. i’ll get back to this in a minute.

in case you don’t know what matthew 7:1 says, it’s the verse that goes, “do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” many people cling to this verse as a way to justify things they’re doing that they know they shouldn’t be doing. if you want a total breakdown of this verse and other misused and misquoted verses in the bible, let me suggest the book the most misused verses in the bible by eric bargerhuff. it’s really, really good. when speaking about matthew 7:1, bargerhuff writes:

[jesus] was not advocating a hands-off approach to moral accountability, refusing to allow anyone to make moral judgments in any sense. quite the opposite, jesus was explicitly rebuking the hypocrisy of the pharisees, who were quick to see the sins of others but were blind and unwilling to hold themselves accountable to the same standard they were imposing on everyone else.

the problem with miley’s gospel is that there would be no accountability for anything or anyone under her belief system. anyone could do whatever they wanted because only god can judge us. do what feels good. have fun. live it up.

as a christian, as someone living life through the lenses of the gospel of jesus, i’m actually encouraged to “judge” in the sense miley is talking about. it is my responsibility to hold my friends to the gospel standard just as it’s their responsibility to hold me to that standard. here’s the catch though: i can only hold them to that standard if i’m holding myself to the same standard.

there is a tension we must live in. we cannot be about behavior management. we cannot hold people who haven’t given their life to jesus to the same standards we have for those who have. while we think that it’s wrong to shake your butt like you’re at the strip club, we can’t expect someone without the guidance of the holy spirit to believe and act the same way we do. we must make sure to not give off the vibe that you must fix yourself before coming to jesus. it’s actually the exact opposite. the only way we know those things are wrong is because we came to jesus when we thought those things were right.

we can disagree with the action.

we can make a judgment that the action is wrong.

we cannot condemn the person. that’s not our role.

the part of matthew 7 that quickly is forgotten right after the don’t judge or you’ll be judged section is the part that comes two verses later. it’s written, “and why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” as christians, we must begin to separate the sin from the sinner. we’ve been given the biggest gift ever known to man in grace. however, we spit on that gift when we judge others and don’t first judge ourselves.

miley’s gospel says, “no one can judge me.”

jesus’ gospel says, “i can judge you, but only after i judge myself.”

later in the same chapter on matthew 7:1, bargerhuff writes that:

the bible makes it clear that it is our duty to spur one another on to live lives that please god. first, our lives should give evidence that we have truly repented of our sin and received christ by faith. then from time to time, as necessary, we are also called to mutually correct, rebuke, and encourage one another in love.

when we correct, rebuke, and encourage one another in love we are not haters. in fact, when we do those things through the lenses of love and grace, we are being more like jesus than anyone else.

accountability does not equal hate.

standards do not imply hatred.

being a person that righteously judges does not make you a hater.

all of this sounds good, but what happens when the two meet? what happens when the gospel i believe in runs head first into a friend who believes in miley’s gospel? i think the answer is found in an old baptist saying: love the sinner. hate the sin.

at the end of the day, the apostle paul summed up the entire thing pretty well in romans 14:13. he wrote, “so let’s stop condemning each other. decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”

i’m going to choose not to condemn miley. it’s not my place. i can, however, make a judgment that says i think the actions that she’s doing and the gospel she’s believing is totally, 100% wrong, but i’m not going to condemn her as a person. only god can do that.

the bottom line is this:

we can’t stop loving people.

we can’t stop holding each other accountable.

we can’t stop viewing things through the gift of grace and the lenses of the gospel of jesus.

love the sinner.

hate the sin.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.

-jonathan

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