So, as usual, I’m super behind on the times. I still haven’t seen The Matrix. My cell phone isn’t smart (though it is tough and survived being frozen in snow for 6 days). And I just found out recently that the wildly famous Christian band had a singer before Peter Fuler (who has since been replaced by Michael Tait).
That man, John James, left the band in late 1997. It was announced he was returning to their homeland of Australia to start a preaching ministry. That wasn’t what happened, and it’s not because it fell through. The whole preaching ministry thing – it was a bold-faced lie. The kind of lie that had no truth clinging to it, not even a thread.
As it turns out John James was a strung out alcoholic, and the band knew it (though it took ‘em awhile to catch on). He had been living the rock lifestyle – drinking in the morning, performing intoxicated, sleeping around – so he obviously had the leave the Newsboys. Since the reasons were incredibly embarrassing to a popular religious band – they lied, saving their good name (and ministry, and the money that came along with it).
There’s a fascinating interview that exposed all this – and which almost inspired a couple of different rants (the band was making a LOT of money). And truth be told I nearly condemned the Newsboys for lying about why John James left – but why bring up 13 year old sins? That’s just being judgmental.
So instead of pointing out all the mistakes (which is about as helpful as apologizing years after blowing something up) I want to gleam something else. I understand why the band lied so outright – they didn’t want to show they weren’t perfect Christians.
Of course every preacher in the world has denounced the idea that Christians aren’t perfect, and that God doesn’t expect us to be, yet we all fall for the idea just as hard as falling in love.
Christianity is founded upon people radically meeting Jesus and being transformed. Paul, of course went from persecuting Christians to being one of them. Jesus is the God of the turn-around, the 180, dramatic conversion. I think we fear that if we show we aren’t perfect (or even worse, that we have big gaping flaws) it calls into question whether we have been transformed – whether we are even a Christian.
And since religion is so easily diverted into legalism, we hide behind being good and not committing Technicolor sins (drinking, smoking, cheating – which is really funny in the most non-humorous way because Christians get into these all the time).
So let’s all calm down and realize that when we met Jesus it merely began a work in us – he didn’t finish it. And let’s remember that whole strength in weakness thing, which is one of those backwards truths that we have difficulty believing. This is why Jesus seemed to call the sinner, because the religious people were off being white-washed tombs. As it turns out, the temptation to make ourselves appear perfect is still alive and well today.
Everything doesn’t have to be fine if you’re a Christian – if anything Christians join with the suffering of the world and things shouldn’t be fine. Human beings learn from struggle, and its difficult to learn from people who aren’t experiencing any.
A God who demands pefection and for his people to be speckless? That sounds like every other relligion in the world, going back to the cavemen. You know what kind of God I can believe in? A God who gives permssion for his followers to be people who struggle, still screw up and don’t get it right. That’s the kind of thing that will catch on and ignite hearts.