It was 5 or 6 years ago. A moment I don’t think I will ever forget. Julie and I were at a concert called “Behold the Lamb” (check it out! It’s amazing!).
A performer got up on stage that I did not recognize. His first song started off like this:
“Have you ever been so selfish
that you let your baby cry
While you finished up a video game?
I haven’t either
That’s pretty bad”
Singing to an audience that, like us, was largely unfamiliar with this artist, Andy Gullahorn, yet not so obtuse to miss the intended humor and facetiousness of these opening lines, the crowd bust out laughing. Little did we know that we were opening ourselves up for a sucker-punch in the gut!
Since that time, Andy Gullahorn has become one of my favorite artists, and I recognize that this is Andy’s M.O.
So Andy’s song, “I haven’t Either” (VIDEO)continues:
“But have you ever stretched the truth telling stories to your friends
So they’d be a little bit more amazed?
I haven’t either
I’d never do that”
That one struck a little bit closer to home than playing video games while your child is crying (because, of course, I’d never do that…). The second verse continues with two more similar lines striking at the heart.
In the chorus, we feel a sense of relief in further distancing ourselves from those who have problems, secrets, unconfessed sin, depraved thoughts, and temptations, which, if carried out, would cause all of our friends to deny that we were more than a mere acquaintence:
“But there are some people out there
Who aren’t completely sincere
What they show in the daylight
Is not exactly what’s inside
It’s a form of protection
From being rejected
But you and I can be so glad
We are not like that”
After listening to Andy’s music for a few years now, it is clear that these songs (there are a number of songs written in a similar vein) did not come out of “thin air”, but have been written out of painful experience and past failure.
When I look at others who have had great moral failures, I see something that they have in common.
When I look into myself and my own failures, I find the same problem.
Of course, the problem fundamentally is sin. But there is something more specific I have in mind.
What I find that all these people (including myself) have in common is an unwillingness to share about the inner turmoil within.
Why? Why would we be unwilling to share?
Certainly, pride is a big part of it. But there is something else:
Fear of what?
We live in a christian culture that categorizes temptations and sins as “acceptable” and “unacceptable“.
Do you struggle with ________________? Oh that’s completely normal, you’re in good company here.
Do you struggle with ________________? Oh yah, I’ve been there, don’t worry about it.
Oh…. you struggle with __________________? Ok, you really need help… that’s not normal.
You struggle with ________________? Ok…. ummmm….. well…..
Can you relate to this? On either side of the conversation? Maybe you are familiar with this rejection. Or maybe you are familiar with making others feel like they are an “outsider” because their struggles are so foreign to you that you consider them gross and repulsive, while finding other sins as simply unfortunate but normal.
This practice produces a culture in which people are willing to admit and repent of certain “acceptable” sins, but would never dare admit to even being tempted by the “unacceptable” ones.
Night after night we see new stories on TV about the next abhorrent and disgusting act, and think to ourselves “How could anyone possibly be capable of such? THOSE are sick people. I am so glad that I am not like that!”
Jonathan Edwards says in one of his resolutions, “Resolved to act in word and deed as if nobody had been so vile as I; to live as if I had committed the same sins or had the same infirmities or failings as others; to confess my own sins and miser to God when I am prone to look on shame at others.”
Is this your approach to sin? Do you approach homosexuality with this attitude? Do you approach abortion this way? Do you approach the latest story on the news this way?
I’m not at all saying that we need to pretend like sin is not a big deal. I’m not at all saying that we need to stop opposing all kinds of evils in our world. I’m not saying that we need to air our dirty laundry out for everyone to see (trust me, I know that this can backfire!).
What I am asking is:
Are you being honest about the evil and depraved intentions in your own heart?
Are you being honest about your own thoughts, no matter how fleeting, that if carried out would land you on the evening news?
Do you have a brother or sister in your life with whom you can share your deepest fears, shames, and failures?
If the answer to to any of these is “well, not really“, then, please, find someone in your life who is willing to accept you no matter what you share with them, yet is willing to help you in your honest attempts to live a life of purity and integrity.
Jesus tells a short story about 2 men. One knows that he has sinned, but his sins are of the “acceptable” kind. The second man knows that he is a sinner, but he is so aware of the utter depravity of his “unacceptable” sinfulness that the Bible says that he cannot even lift His eyes up to Heaven, but simply says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Luke 18.9-14). Jesus says that one these men went away justified, implying that the other did not. Can you guess which one is which?
So, are there any fears, shames, temptations and/or failures that you hope no one ever finds out about?
Me neither. We can both be so glad that we are not like that….
This is how Andy’s song concludes:
“Who am I kidding? Who am I kidding?
I am just like them
No, I’m only kidding
Have you ever felt compelled to get a weight off of your chest
But can’t follow through because you are ashamed?
I’ve heard that you can tell the ones who truly open up
Because their lives are marked with freedom and with peace
And I don’t have either
No I haven’t either”