I’m here to say, I love Jesus, and I love country music. Brad Paisley painted a pretty decent picture of me with the lyrics, “She’s a Saturday on the town, and a church girl on Sunday…” But, it’s always been such a fine line to walk when it comes to being a “good Christian” and having a good time. It’s the idea that we have to hide the beer in our hand so the people we go to church with don’t find out. But, is it that we are hiding it because we feel it’s wrong, or are we hiding it for fear of judgement? When really, both could be considered equal sin. It’s hard to say, and I could sit at either side of the table, but, at the end of the day, I’m not going to quote scripture to prove either wrong.
Last night, my attention was again sparked to these thoughts while seeing Jo Dee Messina perform as part of Track 5’s one year celebration at the Hard Rock Casino. Most of us know JDM for her popular hits like, “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” “Bye, Bye,” and “I’m Alright,” amongst a variety of other sassy, “strong female lead” type tunes. But, last night, she brought a special guest to the table, one that maybe many weren’t expecting…Jesus. Towards the end of her set, Messina began to speak of her own struggles, addictions, and a bout with cancer, mentioning that her mother was now battling the disease. That she was lost, and the only thing keeping her afloat was her relationship with God. Following a short speech she broke into a version of Plumb’s “Need You Now (How Many Times)” the crowd fell silent briefly, but began to embrace the message. However, it was in the next moment as Jo Dee sat at the keyboard and began playing Cory Asbury’s “Reckless Love” that something truly magical, truly spiritual happened. Roars from the crowd, hands and voices lifted up, praising God…in the middle of a bar in Catoosa, Oklahoma. I can’t speak for the other hundreds there, but I can testify that I felt the Holy Spirit in that room. I felt a group of music lovers unite, and embrace, and glorify God. It was a country music concert on a Thursday night that brought us together, but, in that room, we knew that something more, something greater, connected us.
There was no backlash, or boos present…and that is where acceptance should be found. Maybe that bar isn’t where you’d expect to find the love of God, but isn’t it time we remember that it can be found anywhere? I just stewed on the thought all night, the thought that many of those people probably don’t have a home church because they don’t feel accepted. Because they are criticized for having a beer on Saturday night and going to church on Sunday morning. I so often hear, “we welcome everyone, invite all your friends…” but then there is this judgement that they aren’t “the right kind of Christian.” And that turns people away. I’m not saying we have to agree, or encourage, or say we are all for it. But, what I am saying, is maybe we shouldn’t turn our heads at the ones that aren’t the same kind of Christians as us.
A testimony can be given anywhere, and God bless Jo Dee Messina for standing up in front of a crowd and saying, “this probably isn’t what you expected to hear tonight, but, in this profession so many times we are glorified, and if I can only leave you with one thing, it is this, that the person to be glorified is God…” I’m so proud of her!
Let’s all do better.