If you occasionally turn on the radio to any of the top 40 pop stations (which is more and more becoming any commercial station that plays music), you might have heard the song “Royals” by Lorde. Here are the pre-chorus lyrics:
But every song’s like gold teeth, Grey Goose, trippin’ in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair
I love how a kid from New Zealand can assault the ridiculousness of this party/entertainment/celebrity culture.
This feeling of truth being made plain was echoed again when I was with a group discussing dreams versus current reality. The reminder was brought up that an American dream primarily tied to material success is not equivalent to a life well lived. It doesn’t register particularly strong on the measure of “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
I heard N.T. Wright talking about the term “Come, follow me.” He found an manuscript in which Josephus, as a Jewish commander, tells a soldier to “Come, Follow Me.” The context gives weight to a reading like this:
Give up your way of being the kingdom of God and trust me for mine.
Isn’t this what Jesus asks of all of us? To give up our way of trying to use our own manipulation, force, ideals and methods that we think will make our lives and this world better, and then to trust Jesus for His way?
Picture Jesus in the garden. The Roman soldiers come to arrest him. Simon Peter in this moment (thinks he) has a clear idea of what the breaking in of the kingdom of God is going to look like. He was a zealot, ready to overthrow the Roman empire by force. In this moment, Peter takes out his sword, ready for assault, and cuts off a soldier’s ear. (Aside: Given the lack of a shoulder injury, how do you cut off someone’s ear unless you are swinging for the neck and the person ducks sideways?) Jesus heals the wounded soldier and goes on to face the violence of execution.
My confession is that this is all hard to swallow. I often try to follow my own way of being the kingdom of God. It can look good and feel right. But then I’m confronted with Him. And then the simple question of whether I will come and follow. On good days, I might answer something like this:
Ok. I’ll give up my way of being the kingdom of God. I’ll trust you for yours.
Too many days I block it out altogether. I’m too busy thinking about where I’m going to find a gold leash for that tiger. And what kind of a Jet plane we can take to get to that island.