Thursday, December 19, 2013

Beyonce Concert: A Religious Experience?!

I want to organize my thoughts on this in a way that doesn't seem blasphemous, because you guessed it: I'm about to compare Beyonce to the Bible! There's a half dozen ways in which I could do this, but I'll focus on three:

 1. Taste and See

Prior to going to this concert, I wasn't really a Beyonce fan. I wasn't willing to spend a ton of money to get good seats. And around 4:00 PM yesterday, I expressed, to June, a desire to stay home. I was too tired to see Beyonce. But I trudged out to Verizon Center to see her...and it was insane. I came away from that concert thinking (A) This is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, and (B) whatever a "star" is, she is it!

Why was I so apathetic before? The issue was I had only heard of Beyonce, I'd listened to a few songs and thought "that's nice", but I'm not an R&B/Hip Hop she wasn't for me. Resultantly, I went back to my obsession with the likes of Iron & Wine, Ingrid Michaelson, and The Weepies (all amazing artists). However, I hadn't really tried Beyonce.

Likewise, so many people in this world have only heard of Jesus, they've heard about a few of His teachings and thought "that's nice" but Jesus is not for me. And they return to the philosophy of life that they've always had and are comfortable with. They deal with the yearnings of their soul (if they believe in a soul) in the way that they've always known. But, "O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!" (Psalms 34:8). Taste and See is such a simple but overlooked concept. There are so many things that we think we "get the gist" of, but if you've never tasted...if you've never experienced, you can be apathetic about something that is jump-up-and-down exciting! So why not taste God? It'll cost way less than my Beyonce ticket AND you won't have to sit so far away. 


How perfect is this? I mean...really? #whomadethis? #blackfolks #nailedit

3. We can Boldly Approach the Throne of God's Grace

The crux of what I am thinking about Beyonce came to me last night.  I got home from the concert and listened to a sermon on Zechariah 3 (which I'm not that familiar with) in preparation for a 7:00 AM small group at Northside Social.  The sermon was about true spiritual beauty...but to me it was about swagger. Do you need some background? Here you go:

In old Hebrew times, the High Priest had to make atonement for the Jews on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). He had to do this by making sacrifices in the "holy of holies" which:
  1. Is absolutely the most holy place/presence of God/the mercy seat of God
  2. Is restricted to the High Priest (he and he alone can go in there)
  3. Is a place he can only go once a year or die
  4. Requires the High Priest to be clean - which translates to 5 ritual baths AND he will wash his hands and feet 10 times during the service. 
This is serious business. Must. Be. Clean. In Zechariah 3, the prophet is shown a vision of the high priest, not as men see him (as this clean holy High Priest who will atone for us all), but as God sees him: 

 "Now Joshua [high priest] was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel." - Zechariah 3:3

If he's in there, it means he's already taken the ritual bath, but yet he's dirty in the holiest place? Ahhhh! I'm scurred for him!!  But it's cool because God makes him clean (Zechariah 3:4). But then God references someone else. Someone who will come and in one day make everyone clean. Like for all time. No more Day of Atonement (Zechariah 3:10). 

grabby fans
I'm thinking the priest's confidence levels on the day of atonement had to be really low, like basement level confidence. If the High Priest is dirty, I'd probably be obliterated just walking towards the holy of holies. Right?  But then I think about Beyonce and the way this chick boldly struts out on stage, commanding attention. Commanding adoration."Say 'Hey Mrs. Carter!'" and the crowd goes wild screaming "Hey Mrs. Carter!" People are crying, reaching for the stage, shaking when she gets close. They're going berserk and she's taking it in as if it is to be expected. When in reality...she's mere flesh and blood. Cut her, she shall bleed. Poke her in the eye, I bet you she'll squint. But the bigger reality is that she behaves this way because she can. She CAN. Ok...okay. But what does that have to do with Jesus?! In a nutshell: 

Jesus' finished work on the cross transforms us into Beyonce. 

WAIT! Before you close my window, please understand...I don't mean that He transforms us into body rolling paragons of vocal ability. No. Sadly, this does not occur. But Christ's finished work on the cross infuses us with a confidence and boldness that allows you to do far more than dance across a stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. Rather it allows you to boldly strut into the holy of holies like "Hey Lord! I am here! I have arrived! I am awesome! Grace is mine! No sins holding me back! I don't need a mediator! Woot woot!" 

Note: No one enters the holy of holies quite like that, but that's a good description compared to the fact that without Christ's finished work you either are or should be super afraid and timid about approaching God. But now scripture says:

 "So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." - Hebrews 4:16

Swagger. We can roll up with that expectation, because the reality is...we CAN.  


It's not my favorite song on the new album, but I think I've listened to it for 5 hours on repeat, so my Bey song for this post is "XO":