Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Love The Way You Lie? You've got to be kidding me?"

This Sunday, August 14 as part of our morning worship experience our band will cover the song, "Love The Way You Lie, Pt. II" as recorded by Rihanna featuring Eminem.

Personally, I'm not a Rihanna or Eminem fan... And while I can respect and appreciate Enimen's obvious abilities when it comes to rhyme and verse, I'm also disturbed by some of the thoughts that seem to plague this rap superstar.

"Love The Way You Lie, Pt. II" isn't a song we would ordinarily cover in a weekend worship experience. (Some of the language used by Eminem is harsh and vulgar, to say the least...) It's a song about a toxic, destructive relationship that is literally destroying the people involved... According to Eminem, the song is not autobiographical. It's fictional, but it's real... How real? Well, the song has become a worldwise hit garnering more than 400 million hits on You Tube (this doesn't include the mp3 downloads from iTunes or Amazon).

Why is this song so popular? Evidently, a lot of people — probably even people within the confines of our church walls — can relate to the emotional and relationship pain this song describes.

"On the first page of our story the future seemed so bright,
Then this thing turned out so evil. I don’t know why I’m still surprised.
Even angels have their wicked schemes, and you take that to new extremes.
But you’ll always be my hero, even though you’ve lost your mind."

In an excellent post about this very song, Matt Smay writes: "...why all the interest in songs that portray life from a broken point of view? For me, something seems to be missing from the church culture. Perhaps it's that the church has lost its identity as a place of safey and refuge, where followers of Jesus and [people who don't yet know Jesus] can bring their confessions without condemnation. Instead the church has been pushed aside from deeply troubling and authentic conversations, and now looks outside in shock — even horror at the depth of our culture's issues..."

"Unfortunately, all the heavy issues are not absent from our churches...not unless we've been so judgmental to drive out all but the most disciplined Christians. Songs like these amplify my frustration with the church that is not wading into the deep, creating opportunities for dialogue. The dialogue in itself doesn’t fix anything, but it’s a great place to start DEALING with the toughest of life’s struggles. If we can trust the gospel of Christ to save us, why do we lack the confidence to dive into the conversation with both feet?"


This Sunday we'll dive in with both feet... We'll talk about "controlling, unforgiving, reactive, shaming and ego-centered" relationships.

We'll also talk about relationships plagued by "cold shoulders, demeaning comments, explosive arguments, destructive habits, verbal abuse, physical abuse. You name it..."

More importantly, we'll talk about the only thing that can transform our relationships: the gospel of Jesus and the extravagant grace of God.

When it comes to culture, the church should never become trivial or "cute" and use songs, movie clips, etc. for the sake of being "cool, hip or relevant." Our mission is way is too important for that! The gospel is way too important for that!

When Paul entered Athens in Acts 17, he was "...deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere..." (Acts 17:16). The culture of the city bothered Paul. It burdened Paul. But he still quoted some of that culture's poet's in his famous sermon on Mars Hill. In quoting that culture's poet's / artists, I can't imagine Paul doing it for the sake of being "cool, hip or relevant." He did it with a deep burden and as a means of building a bridge, so that he could point people to the only hope we have: the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Mark Driscoll has written an excellent post on a Christian's response to culture over on The Resurgence blogsite. According to Driscoll, there are three possible ways Christians can respond to culture.

Receive – There are things in culture that we can receive as a part of God’s common grace. Whether it’s great music that celebrates a healthy relationship, a movie that is inspiring or uplifting or the Macbook that I’m typing this email on…

Reject – There are some things in culture that are sinful and not beneficial at all… For instance, pornography has no redeeming value and has to be completely rejected by sincere followers of Jesus.

Redeem - Finally, there are some things in culture that are not bad in and of themselves, but can be used in a sinful ways and need to be redeemed by God’s people.

This Sunday, we're going to attempt to "redeem" a song that poignantly speaks to a lot of the relational pain many people are experiencing. We'll use that song as a lauching pad to talk about our only hope: the gospel of Jesus and the extravagant grace of our great God.

Invite a friend to join you this Sunday at a2 Church for a worship experience that could change their life.

Love The Way You Lie, Pt. II (Rihanna featuring Eminem)
The Eseential Every Relationship Needs: GRACE

Sunday, August 14, 9:45 am
a2 Church
600 Montgomery Highway, Suite 208
Vestavia City Center (Just behind Pet Supermarket)

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