Maybe I’m becoming a grouchy old man. Or maybe I’m just losing my soul. Either way, I didn’t see what the big deal was with Molly Kate Kestner.
I first heard about her on Facebook. It was one of those “If this girl’s voice doesn’t bring you to tears and make your spirit start soaring among the mountain tops, there’s something wrong with you” kind of posts. After I watched it, there were no tears. My spirit didn’t soar anywhere. It just stayed put. I assumed that there was something wrong with me.
The video wouldn’t go away. On Tuesday night, I turned on the TV and saw Diane Sawyer talking about how great it was. I gave it another chance. Everyone in the house was quiet as we listened to this girl sing.
Still no tears. No spirit soaring.
It’s not that Molly Kate Kestner can’t sing. She can. Really well. But so can a lot of other people that I know and Diane Sawyer isn’t talking about them. So what’s the big deal?
That’s what I asked my wife after the news story was over. My wife wasn’t crying and I’m not sure if her spirit soared. But she did like what she saw and heard. She broke it down for me.
She told me that so many people like this video because it’s real. Kestner wrote the song by herself in about 15 minutes. It wasn’t written by a team of hit makers in New York City. She played the song on her grandmother’s out of tune piano. Not in a recording studio where computers make the music. A cracked iPhone was her camera. There were no lighting tricks, no make-up artists covering up flaws and no dancing nudists in the background. Just young Molly Kate Kestner and her grandmother’s broken piano.
It was real.
And the rest is viral history.
Christians have a lot to learn about being real. Some of us don’t like it very much. So we put on our best face and head to church where we lie more than we have all week.
“How are you, Jim?”
“Fine. Just fine.”
We’re always fine. Just fine. Even when we’re not.
And we’re always, “Happy to be in the house of the Lord this morning!”
Nothing is more troubling to an already troubled soul than being around a bunch of people who are fake happy. But often, that is us. Christians can be a lot like Milli Vanilli. We’re great at looking the part and convincing others that we’re something we are not. But eventually, the track we’re lip syncing to skips and we’re exposed as anything but real.
And then there’s the other extreme. This is the end of the spectrum where everyone is real, supposedly. So the pastor who cusses like the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket doesn’t have a problem with self-control, he’s just being real. And the guy who struggles to keep his hands off of all of his girlfriends isn’t a serial adulterer. He’s just keeping it real.
For the fake Christians, sin is a mistake that is never talked about.
On the other extreme, there is no such thing as sin. Just keeping it real.
For those who truly care about following Jesus, being real, much like that viral YouTube song, is completely different from the doctored images all around us.
Being real is the freedom to admit that we have not arrived. We are not perfect. We are not always fine. And there are times, if we’re honest, that we’re not “Happy to be in the house of the Lord.”
But it is also the recognition that while we have not arrived, we are still on the journey. We are in the process of arrival that will finally happen at the arrival of Jesus. The Spirit lives inside of us and helps us to have victory and obedience. We don’t have the temper we once did. We still have to fight but we don’t keep getting beaten up by the same old sins. We are being made more and more like Jesus.
That’s what it means for a Christian to be real. If this is the reality that we pursue, Diane Sawyer may never talk about us. We may never go viral. But, rest assured, the world will notice.