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FIRST-PERSON: Are the Grammys the place to be?

WILSON, N.C. (BP) –- A childhood friend who lives in Los Angeles, site of the 2014 Grammy Awards, had seen some of the back and forth about Natalie Grant’s early exit from the Grammys and Mandisa’s decision to skip the event altogether. He asked a question that was pointed and evangelistic: Wouldn’t it have been better for Grant to stay (and Mandisa to attend) so they could be light in darkness?

It’s an honest question that demands some answers.

First, the question assumes that being present is enough in evangelism. It is true that God calls us to be light in darkness. And, unfortunately, the church often has done a better job convincing believers to “stay away” from lost folks than encouraging us to interact. Indeed, we seem to be more skilled at cursing the darkness than lighting a candle.

It is obvious that if we are going to be a witness for Christ, we have to be “with” unbelievers. But the simple fact that we are present with unbelievers does not — by itself — constitute being light. If that were the case, our men’s ministries could visit the local strip clubs under the guise of “being light in darkness.” That would be a bit far-fetched, but it makes the point: being present alone is not enough to constitute being a witness. We actually need to share our faith verbally to truly be light in darkness.

Second, the question assumes that those attending the Grammys are open to a gospel witness. I realize this is moving into risky territory. Only God truly knows what is going on in a person’s heart and life. And, it is very possible that a person attending the Grammys is doing so during a time of great spiritual searching. But truthfully, the environment is not terribly conducive to probing a person’s deepest spiritual concerns.

It is important that we be mindful of this fact. Not every environment is equal, evangelistically. In reality, the Grammys show is about flaunting the trappings of success and pushing the boundaries of convention (usually by seeking to be edgier than last year’s show). The simple fact is that there are some environments that are more conducive to sharing our faith than others. That does not make us unevangelistic, it makes us wise.

Third, the question ignores that the cultural drift away from basic moral standards has practical implications for discerning Christians. Too often we ignore the fact that Christians are, well, people — people who struggle with sin and wrestle with pride.

Simply put, not every activity is beneficial for us. Depending on where we are in our walk with Christ, attending a show like the Grammys may do us more spiritual harm than good. Mandisa alluded to this as she shared her struggle to be in the world, but not of the world. An event that celebrates “the world” is not the best place to engage in that struggle. While Grant was wisely circumspect in her wording, it is safe to say that watching various women parade half naked on a stage, gyrate their bodies to music and — in some cases — imitate sexual acts with others is not the best way to move toward spiritual maturity.

So what are we to make of all this? Simply that Natalie Grant and Mandisa are not that different from you and me. They are Christian ladies who are seeking to live out their faith in a very bright spotlight. In so doing, every action they take (i.e. leaving the Grammy’s early) or don’t take (i.e. skipping the Grammy’s altogether) will be scrutinized.

Because both women have handled themselves with tremendous grace and Christian maturity, I suggest we follow that model. Could they have been light in darkness? I suspect they are.
Rob Pochek is senior pastor of Raleigh Road Baptist Church in Wilson, N.C. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Rob Pochek