I, like most people, was shocked by the performance of Miley Cyrus at the MTV’s Video Music Awards.
But there was something that shocked and disturbed me even more than her performance. The response to her performance.
There has been a lot of hate and condemnation from many towards Miley and her dad. And that is honestly more disturbing to me than what Miley did on stage.
I get that what she did was tasteless, trashy, etc. And it certainly didn’t take long for the self righteousness of people to voice that on social media. People everywhere, religious and non-religious began looking down at her. Condemning her. Ridiculing her. Seeing her as beneath themselves.
As I watched the reaction, it really began to bother me. Are we all really that much better than her? From what I understand from the Bible, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“. (Romans 3:23) That means ALL of us have fallen short in some way or another.
I couldn’t help but think of embarrassing things I had done at her age. And things I have done even to this day. I have done some dumb and embarrassing things to myself and others at times. Haven’t you? I saw a reflection of my own nature and self in Miley.
Then I remembered Jesus’s teaching on judging others. ““Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2)
I understand Jesus to be teaching us that undue harshness and a judgmental attitude toward others will result in being treated in much the same way by God. Jesus is speaking out against pride that views oneself as better than others.
I don’t know about you, but that causes me to want to extend grace and mercy. Because I want grace and mercy from God for the things I have done wrong. And I want to have an honest view of myself. It is easy to look at someone’s sin and try and make yourself feel better about your own sin. And that is the danger that Jesus is addressing.
Also, a lot of people question her dad Billy Ray and his parenting skills.
I wonder if all of those who are condemning have raised teenage girls. I am trying to do that right now and it is harder than I thought it would be.
I really don’t think Jesus would respond to Miley or her dad with condemnation. The story that came to mind when thinking how Jesus would respond is found in John 8.
Now there is controversy around this story. Not because of what happens in it but because there is doubt regarding whether this story was actually in John’s original gospel. It is absent from all of the oldest manuscripts.
Scholars say, “But there is nothing in it unworthy of sound doctrine. It seems best to view the story as something that probably happened during Jesus’ ministry but that was not originally part of what John wrote in his Gospel.”
I agree. I can see something like this happening in the ministry of Jesus. It lines up with the way in which he treated people.
As he (Jesus) was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
What strikes me about this story is not that the women committed adultery but the way in which the community responded to her. I see this carrying over to this modern day example.
In a similar fashion, Miley and her parents seem to be at the center of our town square with people ready to stone her. And in fact many are already stoning her with their accusations.
I can’t help but wonder if Jesus would respond to us the way he did to the self righteous of his day. He might say to us, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
Then I imagine he would say to Miley, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” We all would have left like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. Leaving Miley and Jesus alone.
Then he would tell her, I don’t condemn you either. But there are changes in your behavior that need to happen. Much like he told the woman caught in adultery. ”Go and sin no more.”
That is how God has worked in my life time and time again.
So for me, Miley and the culture’s response has taught and reminded me of a different lesson. Embrace grace. Because that could be me. And that could be my daughter. Grace shapes my acceptance by God and it should shape my interaction with others. So when others are quick to condemn, I should always be quick to extend grace and mercy.