Pastor Ryan - May 16, 2022
These are the lyrics to a popular song, presently, by the artist Gayle. If you haven’t heard it, I don’t know that you’re missing out, but it is catchy. The essence of the hook is that the woman singing is mad. I mean, like, super mad at her boyfriend over breaking up. The song plays on our ability to guess what the “F” is. I looked the lyrics up and the song starts out with “Forget,” which is nice, I guess. I guess, because if I had to guess my guess wouldn’t have been “forget.” My guess would have had four letters that started with an “f” and been the kind of word we don’t say in “polite” company. The kind of word one might simply say, well, F-you. That’s the great fun about the song. The singer is just singing the alphabet and then starts talking about her ex-boyfriend, but, of course, she’s not. She’s dropping “F-bombs.” We all know that, but she gets away with it because she didn’t actually say anything. Right?
In my book, she gets away with a catchy song that I find myself humming. But Jesus would call her out on the intent. Once, Jesus was having a discussion and some people were offended that the disciples who followed Jesus didn’t adhere to some of the traditions (Matt 15). Jesus offended lots of people. It seemed to come naturally to Him because He kept His eyes on what mattered and sometimes that wasn’t what others thought mattered. Jesus didn’t care about looking the part, He cared about being and acting the part. Those people who called Jesus out just wanted Jesus and His disciples to conform to the traditions of the day. My Lutheran brothers and sisters we can understand this. We have a catch phrase to address this very notion: “we’ve always done it this way.” That phrase is the same phrase Jesus encountered when the Pharisees asked why the disciples broke the Tradition of The Elders. Christ’s answer is simple. God doesn’t check boxes. That is, God doesn’t want to see people going through the motions. God wants people who are living out their faith. Jesus gets to the heart of the matter when He says “it's not what goes into the mouth that defiles,” (referring to the lack of washing one’s hands) “but it’s what comes out of the mouth that defiles.”
That means what’s going on inside, the intent, the heart, is what corrupts. If we go to Church every Sunday, but don’t have or act in love, then it's all in vain. This means I could say the most beautiful words, but if I don’t have love then I am just as good as a goose honking (I Cor 13:1). Or if I say “freck” and “frack” with the venom of a thousand adders then I am dropping F-bombs, all the same. Jesus reminds us that if we even look at a person with hate in our hearts, we are murderers. Yikes! That’s a high bar. And that’s the point. We will never meet the requirements for perfection, or even good enough. The bar is impossibly high. So rather than worry about “who’s outside the lines of acceptable” or “if I’m doing it right” we can understand that we have all fallen short. We can extend to others the grace our LORD extends to us. We can see in others’ imperfections our imperfections. My prayer is that those imperfections bring us together, expose our humanity, and unite us again and again.
As for Gayle. I would forgive her. Breaking up is tough and, frankly, sometimes you just have to call it like it is, “everyone but the dog can all get lost.” But I would hope that if ever she found herself at an awards ceremony, say the Oscars, and someone throws that same shade at her, or her family, she doesn’t get on a stage and slap anyone. But, instead, takes the words with grace and extends the same to her offender.