Jon Stolpe Stretched

What's S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g me now?

Kanye West – A view from Prodigal Jon

I read a lot of blogs.  One blog is called “Stuff Christians Like” by a guy named Prodigal Jon.  I thought his commentary on the recent Kanye West episode tied in very well to the last post “Zip It!  Be Slow to Speak…”  Here’s what Prodigal Jon had to say.  I’d love to hear what you think.
Kanye West deserves less grace and forgiveness than I got.

I don’t know the exact amount, unfortunately the Bible’s not terribly clear on measurements. I mean sure, I know Goliath was six cubits and a span, everyone knows that, but when it comes to doling out grace, there’s not a clear form of measurement.

Is grace a liquid? In the songs people sing about God’s love it’s always in the form of water, “fall down like rain,” “wash over me,” etc.

So let’s say that Kanye West deserves one less gallon of grace and forgiveness than I got.

Or maybe a jug. It’s hard to say what the precise amount is but that’s what I was thinking when I heard he ruined Taylor Swift’s moment at the Video Music Awards. After he walked on stage, and interrupted the nervous teenager to tell her about another performer who deserved the award more than she did, a few thoughts popped up. I didn’t think about the whole situation a lot, on the Jon scale of thought I gave the incident more time than Salt and Vinegar Pringles but less than the new season of “So You Think You Can Dance.” But here’s what ran through my head:

“Kanye West always does that. He’s got a history of doing that kind of thing.”

“Kanye West probably did that on purpose, it was staged. He planned it.”

“Kanye West just wounded a teenager, a kid, that is horrible.”

“Anyone who supports him is dumb.”

“He’ll probably apologize but it won’t be real.”

And I felt pretty good hating on Kanye. I got a hit of that, “I’m not as bad as somebody else” drug. I felt better than him and told my wife the whole story with smugness.

But then I thought about it. That was a worst moment, staged or not, that was a mistake and I am so happy my worst mistakes were not televised.

Then I thought about Kanye the person, the son whose mom died. The broken man with a savior who is longing to see a glimpse of him on the road back to the farm. Then I thought about who I wanted to be in the prodigal son story, the older brother who condemns or the servant who helps plan the party? I know which one is easier. I know which one I usually run to. But this time I couldn’t.

Suddenly I didn’t like the first things I thought:

“Kanye West always does that. He’s got a history of doing that kind of thing.”
So do I. I’ve never committed a single sin, a single time. I am a repeat offender. I have a longer history with sin than Kanye does with running on stage at events. Have you ever repeated a sin more than once?

“Kanye West probably did that on purpose, it was staged. He planned it.”
My worst moments were planned. I didn’t fall down the stairs and suddenly find myself landing in a heap of unexpected garbage at the bottom. I made plans. I was deliberate. I set things up that at the time seemed to be what I needed. I did the things that crippled my life on purpose.

“Kanye West just wounded a teenager, a kid, that is horrible.”
He did and it’s inexcusable, but I wounded my own kids, not a 19-year old stranger. I hurt my own kids by working 70 hour work weeks and chasing money instead of them and mortgaging everything that mattered about being a dad. I did that.

“Anyone who supports him is dumb.”
Do you have to support to show love? Do you have to condone to offer grace and forgiveness? Clearly Proverbs spells out a million reasons you shouldn’t support fools and foolish behavior and what Kanye did was foolish. And it’d be equally dumb to judge people for judging Kanye. Are there only two options though? We love him which means we’re pro “running on stage and hurting people” or we hate him? Can’t we disagree with the behavior and offer love to the person? (I think I just invented the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I should put that on t-shirts.)

“He’ll probably apologize but it won’t be real.”
According to whose standards? Mine? Is that what Christ says is the second most important commandment in Matthew 22:39 “Love your neighbor as yourself, only if their apology is legitimate and you feel that their repentance is real?” Or is it written, “Rebuke your neighbor as yourself?” Or is love the thing we’re supposed to do? And let’s be honest, what are the chances that I get to heaven and God says, “You offered too many hurting people grace. You over graced the world Jon. That is whack.”

The more I thought about it, the harder it was to hate Kanye.

So I tweeted and wrote on facebook:

“If we all had our worst mistakes televised we’d give Kanye West grace instead of hate.”

Some people got mad and defriended me (worst verb ever) and some people were cool with that idea. I understand both reactions. I’m not justifying a dumb mistake from Kanye or desupporting Taylor Swift (second worst verb ever). I can only tell you what my experience was because it’s 100% of the experiences I had yesterday. When I heard the story about Kanye, I judged him. I hated on him. I did not correct him or try to offer wise counsel, I hated.

Maybe you didn’t.

Maybe you laughed at how silly and insignificant the whole thing was because it’s just a bunch of celebrities, who cares. Maybe you threw on Kanye’s “Jesus Walks” and got down like the awkward girl from the rich part of town that inexplicably moves to the inner city high school and has to learn how to dance to survive some sort of all girl gang but ends up falling in love with a tough on the outside by soft and tender on the inside street youth while learning the valuable lesson that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

Maybe that was your reaction.

Mine was hate.

And I hate that.

And I love that God loves me like He loves Kanye.

Because we are both in desperate need of it.

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September 16, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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