Those of you who know my methods understand that I have a tendency to glean a theme and stay on it. My last blog was called ‘Wonderful’. I was focusing on wonder of the redeemed variety; namely when we suddenly step into a Divine arena much larger than ourselves. This last week however, I experienced a technicolor eye-opener into fuller understanding.
In order to fully grasp this, let’s take a step back. In Hebrew, wonder is defined as ‘to be surpassing or extraordinary, to deal wonderfully, singular or special; a miracle’ (Pala; Strongs # 6382). However, it also embraces the darker, negative side of ‘terrible, difficult, unfathomable, horrible, monstrous’ (something appalling). While the theme of wonder was still fresh in my thoughts, what should happen but the VMA’s (Video Music Awards)? The VMA’s celebrate the most cutting-edge ideas and innovations of the music and video industry, so they’re always more than a little wild. They revel in being outrageous, but this year, they red-lined. I’m not talking about the red-carpet fashion statements or general media noise. What struck me most this time was the spirit behind the thing.
Since the U.S. elections last year, the level of venom on all media platforms has seen an astounding increase, and the VMA’s reflected it. I freely confess that I’m not one who usually watches the whole awards. I tune in every half hour or so, just to catch the gist. Frankly, I like to see how the host is fairing. I can only stand the blatant ‘flesh-fest’ of it all for about a minute and a half. This year, the shenanigans were so thoroughly covered by other news and media shows, you couldn’t miss it if you tried. Of course, it’s disturbing that we have reached an age of technology where the digital manipulation of sound and visuals is so pervasive that you don’t actually need to have much raw talent, training or even skill to become a famous musician. Do the awards themselves even celebrate the quality of the music so much as the slickly sensational way it’s being packaged and promoted? It’s debatable.
But all of that is incidental. The wondrous part in it all was the blatant spirit of arrogance, vanity, contempt, open insult, and downright vengeance that dominated the proceedings. Of course, there were huge back-stories going on behind the scenes, emphasizing the duplicity and pretense. Hours before, vitriol was burning up the feeds, but that night all vipers in the bosom were safely ensconced in designer finery. Hypocrisy ran underneath it all like a fetid river. It’s amazing that these self-proclaimed defenders of all forms of racial, sexual, cultural and social equality can’t see the irony. Scripture says ‘If anyone boasts, “I love God,”(or what they consider righteous causes) and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? (1 John 4:20). Translation for our application? If you can’t even honor the people present with you in a sincere manner, (at an awards show, no less), how is it you think you’re going to achieve world peace? If you spend all night shamelessly dissing your peers, casting shade and slamming abuse at those both present and absent, you cannot hope to be a force for anything remotely healing. It’s the wrong spirit. It’s all just a spectacle for the masses hungry for its next Instagram fix. Gladiatorial blood-sport for a modern generation.
The long and short of it all is this. Wonder can be a two-edged sword. We are created to worship, so don’t be surprised that someone is trying to manipulate awe. In its authentic ideal, it is profound reverence for God and His Kingdom. In Satan’s hands here on earth, it’s a grotesque: great beauty (or talent or giftedness) mixed with great bestiality, enthralling those who don’t know better. Rampant, monstrous narcissism is the dominant spirit of an internet age. It’s a time when nobody can become somebody overnight for no greater virtue than the number of Twitter followers or Youtube hits, and it’s warping all sense of right and wrong. The ‘Prince of the Power of the Air’ (Eph2:2) is having a field-day. Massive zones of illusion and delusion (a counterfeit form of wonder) are being created and used to create veneration. Jesus warned that there would be a growing increase of supernatural manifestations on the earth, causing confusion, even among the elect (Matt 24:24). The VMA’s simply distill it all down marvelously in one grand spectacle. The mindset of the modern collective is amplified and paraded.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal 5:19-23)
What is the spirit behind our actions? What are we giving our time and attention to? What are we spending our passion on? We’d better be careful what captivates us…what we worship. Life these days requires vigilance, because the forces moving this thing along are insanely seductive. It’s shaping our minds and actions. The soul is unspeakably precious, and there’s an unrelenting fight on for it. I’m looking to the Holy Spirit to keep me safe in the powerful current of contemporary life. These are dangerous waters, so show me where the line is, Lord. He’s seen it all…and He will deliver us, even from ourselves and our own delusions of grandeur.