Faith: Ground It, Move It or Lose It
September 19, 2014 § 1 Comment
A new 2001 video has surfaced with a casual and candid behind-the-scenes look at a 16-year old Katy Perry, who was then still known as Katy Hudson, “before she was famous.” The videographer follows her around a trailer while she gets ready for a show, the superstar we now know as Katy Perry was very much a girl trying to figure out the world.
Reporter Kristen Yoonsoo Kim gives her impressions: “It’s fascinating to see the makings of a superstar unrealized. She giggles about the gross toilet, calls herself ‘conceited’ and ‘pizza face’ (she keeps fixing her hair and putting on more makeup), talks about repeating the 9th grade and shares a very real emotional moment.”
Raised in a Christian home, Katy wrote and sang Christian and gospel music. Katy’s parents are pastors at a Pentecostal church. She talks briefly of her influences, other Christian artists she was into, and her faith pours out in the words of her own music.
Through this skin You see my heart
Through this laughter You feel my pain
Even through this mask You see my face
For You are the only one who really knows just who I am
And You search me
And You know all the secrets of my heart
Revealing the mysteries of who You are
You search me
Growing up never comes easily
In Your hands, You’re the potter molding me
Then why do I wear this mask and play this game of hide and seek
When You are the only one who really knows just who I am
My Father, my Father
You are my Father, oh, and
I am Your child
And You hear my cry
Even at the midnight
The “emotional moment” the author describes is a scene that begins about halfway through the video. Katy is in a cheerful mood talking about songwriting with what looks to be a Bible open in her lap, which she looks at but doesn’t talk about. Her mood turns somber as she reveals, “I’m really afraid of death, actually”, along with a fear of being old and alone. There’s the lament of 6 months of frustrating writers block that seguays into the admission, while holding back tears, that she hates her parents so much that she misses them.
After the album she was touring for didn’t perform well, Katy switched from Christian to pop and rock. Her debut hit was “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008. In 2013, Katy Perry denounced Christianity, along with all other religions, though adopting a vaguely eastern sort of Deism (belief in a nondescript, uninvolved higher power). When asked about a rumor that she had vowed celibacy for a year, Katy retorted, “…please. Celibacy for a whole year, I’d rather die.” Apparently she lost her fear of death, a fear that actually might have done her an eternity of good.
I don’t mean to pick on Katy Perry. Her journey out of the faith is not particularly extraordinary. In fact, it’s the same kind of thing that happens to a lot of people who are not firmly grounded in their faith. She hadn’t developed an anchor. I’m guessing Katy’s faith was her parents’ faith, not her own, and when she fell away from her parents, she fell away from their faith. Without the influence of a Christian family or church family, what she was told to believe at home was exchanged for the new and relevant influences of the secular music industry and culture that now surrounds her.
Max Lucado tells the story of a little boy who fell out of bed one night. His mother came into the room and asked what happened. The child says, “I don’t know, I guess I just stayed too close to where I got in.”
Lucado likens the boy’s experience to our Christian walk. “Pick a time in the not-too-distant past. A year or two ago. Now ask yourself a few questions. How does your prayer life today compare with then? How about your giving? Have both the amount and the joy increased? What about your church loyalty? Can you tell you’ve grown? And Bible study? Are you learning to learn?” (from When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado)
There is a danger to resting on the edge, staying too close to where we got into our faith. If your faith is not your own, make it your own. And I guess we then need more than an anchor. We need a paddle or a sail to move forward. Spiritually, everyone is in a different place. Wherever you are at right now, make it a goal to grow from there. Purpose to move at least a little deeper in your faith.
If we aren’t progressing, there will be much we are not ready to understand. Paul addresses an immature group of believers: “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.” (1 Cor. 3:1-3)
The writer of Hebrews has a stern rebuke for Christians who were “resting on the edge.” “[B]y this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Heb. 5:12) But he later encourages them to “move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…” (Heb. 6:1)
Paul says to the church in Ephesus, “we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ…” (Eph. 4:14,15)
In the life of any believer, I think there are areas where we see we have grown wise and strong in our faith, and also areas that are neglected and infantile. I have seen that in others and I definitely see that in myself.
How do we keep from floating away and finding ourselves spiritually lost at sea? We need anchors—to know what we believe. And we need to navigate, adopting a discontentment with staying where we are and purposing to “move beyond.” If we are not progressing on to maturity, we are actually shrinking away from it. Storms will hit us, whether it’s a broken family or other kind of relationship, loss of health or wealth. If our knowledge is anchored in truth, and our sights set on maturity in the faith, we won’t drift. Godly wisdom and understanding is meant to be pursued with diligence (pick a Proverb).
We’re not after perfection, not on this side of heaven anyway. In Pauls’ letter to the church at Philippi, he writes, “The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. … It’s not that I have already reached this goal or have already been perfected, but I pursue it… I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:10-14 CEB)
Plan on losses, but plan to grow and to keep the faith. If our identity is in Christ, whatever we lose on earth will be smaller than the God who anchors and guides us forward.