I have to admit that I have done everything I could to avoid reading, listening, or becoming acquainted with this eccentric, odd, unconventional, radical personality known as Lady Gaga. If you haven’t watched Entertainment Tonight or read any juicy tabloids in the last year, Lady Gaga is a very unusual singer and song writer who attracts a lot of media attention by wearing totally outrageous and off-the-wall outfits. I thought, “Anyone who wears raw meat as clothing to a media event isn’t worth my time.” Of course, I live in a bubble. The only information I’ve ever received about her has been from the television and internet types of reporting on the strange outfits she wears. And I believe everything I read, don’t you? Why would I have any other impression than what the news says? And then I saw a sign on my FaceBook page that said, “If you didn’t hear it with your own ears or see it with your own eyes, don’t invent it with your small mind and share it with your big mouth.”
So last Thursday evening after a wonderful turkey dinner with friends, I turned on the television. I started flipping through the channels to see what was on, and lo and behold, there was a Lady Gaga Thanksgiving special. I thought, “Here’s my chance to see with my own eyes, and hear with my own ears and learn a little more about this person.” I also thought, “I may not be able to watch much of this. I’m sure there’s a football game I can watch.”
To make a long story short, I couldn’t turn the channel. I quickly worked my way through the external impressions received from the conventional world, and saw a highly creative, talented young lady who fit into no one’s box. She may be more of a marketing genius than eccentric, and I’m not approving her methods or choices in how she gets attention or sells her CDs. But she has a message that’s deeper than what attracts the media attention. They’re more interested in her oddities. That’s what sells papers and advertising.
The world is drawn to outer appearances, but the message carried by the individual is what will either attract you or it will repel you. The message I heard from Lady Gaga is this: be the unique and special person God created you to be. There’s no one on earth like you. Don’t be anyone else besides you. You don’t have to fit a box that everyone wants you to fit in. I read this week that the #1 most common regret expressed by people who are on their deathbed is this: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
As the messenger of this message, Lady Gaga lives her message. You’ll have to make your own judgment about whether Lady Gaga’s message attracts you or repels you. I’ll just tell you that her new CD is the first CD I’ve wanted to buy in a very long time.
Well, the point for today, the second Sunday in Advent, is that Lady Gaga’s external appearance makes me think of John the Baptist and how he might have been perceived by the conventional people of his day. And this is how the Good New of Jesus Christ in Mark opens up…to a messenger whose external appearance was so strange that what he wore made it into the Bible. Rarely do you hear what anyone else wore. John wore unconventional clothing… camel’s hair and leather belts and he had a strange diet. Locusts and wild honey. Maybe it’s those kinds of odd things that got the attention of people back then too, and made them want to find out – what makes this person do these kinds of things. You’ve got to get them interested before they’ll listen.
But the way God works in paradoxes, maybe it’s a radical message that makes the messenger look radical and unconventional. John had a message. His message was about changing the way you live your life so you stop hurting others. That part of the message wasn’t radical. Prophets had been saying that for centuries. What was more radical was this: Get ready for someone more drastic than me. Get ready to see and hear about a more unconventional image of God than you’ve ever dreamed possible who is coming in the flesh. If you accept his message, your life will never be the same.
Then Jesus came with his radical message: God is good – ALL the time, not just when you’re good. God is love. Jesus’ clothes weren’t radical. His actions of love were the most radical message of all. And he lived this message to his death.