Curtain up: A highly sexualized performance from Nicki Minaj with special guest Taylor Swift leads off the 2015 VMAs. A performance full of sexualized acts that even made this 30-year-old (yeah, I’m old) feel slightly awkward.
Yes, it was the Video Music Awards, the MTV production that annually showcases the “best” in music by pretending they still care about the music video (many of you aren’t old enough to remember a time when the station actually played music videos).
But hey, that’s neither here nor there. The VMAs have always tried to have the “shock factor” moments.
Cue Miley Cyrus and her, ummmm, foam finger.
Oh wait, don’t.
So, after creating controversy year after year, MTV did the unthinkable: They made Miley the host of the 2015 VMAs.
This post is not about Miley; this post isn’t about what she wants or represents. No, this post isn’t attacking or criticizing individuals.
Far from it.
I’m praising the VMAs for something. Yep, a Christian website PRAISING the VMAs. WHAT?!
You see, after the controversy between artists (not naming names) and questionable “editing” by MTV’s production team (I didn’t know they could show the F-word on national TV until last night) on the VMAs, the headlines the morning after are all about two names: Tori Kelly and Justin Bieber.
Facebook is trending Tori and Justin.
Google is trending Tori and Justin.
Tori had a coming-out party, Justin had a welcome-back party.
Tori rocked her performance not by over-sexualizing it or seeing just how little she could wear. No, Tori rocked a modest but flawless look that made her look MUCH more mature (she’s 22) than her fellow musicians.
Why are we talking so much about Tori? Well, you see, Tori is a VERY outspoken Christian. She puts her love of Christ on her heart and on Twitter.
isaiah 12:2 ??? my strength & my song
—Tori Kelly (@ToriKelly), August 22, 2015
Justin Bieber has had a tough go of things lately. But last night presented a new Justin, a much more mature Justin. A Justin Bieber who seems to have found himself again. A Justin Bieber who showed his true self, a man who is devoted to his Savior, Jesus Christ. Justin is praising his faith for getting him through a difficult time…heck, he even quoted scripture on live TV!
We have hope after last night—hope in a generation that seems to care so much about themselves. A generation that’s taken the selfie game to a whole new level. A generation where your life is a social currency to being popular, and the more likes you get, the better you will be in life.
Look, as Christians we can look at an event like the VMAs and shield our eyes. We can be a group that pulls an “us vs. them” mentality. A group that slams Miley, Nicki and Kanye on social media. But that’s not what Jesus calls us to do.
We’ve created a subgenre of everything Christian. Up until the 1800s and even in the early 1900s, Christianity was the preferred art form. Through music, movies and art, faith was everywhere. Well, that’s changed and now it’s time to bring it back. Justin is bringing Christ back into the mainstream with a performance like he gave last night. Tori is showing you don’t need to bare it all.
As Christians, let’s praise MTV for giving these two artists the chance to show they have something to say, too.
As Christians, we love Miley, Kanye, Nicki and everyone else for WHO THEY ARE. Jesus tells us to love. We stand side by side with those suffering from racism, bullying and ridicule for who they are. This generation is hurting—it’s our chance to be difference-makers.
Let’s be difference-makers by embracing this world, not just living in it. Let’s be difference-makers who show up and take on pop culture just as Tori and Justin have.
Tori and Justin are not alone; last night we saw Twenty One Pilots perform and we’ve talked openly about their faith here at PI. There are others, too, but we as a group of Christians need to open up. We need to take on the hurt, we need to love.
Last night something changed. Today is the beginning.
Who’s with us? Want to be a difference-maker today?
Good. Now go talk about it with your friends.