Grace in Unexpected Places: A Letter to West Franklin

Grace in Unexpected Places: A Letter to West Franklin April 30, 2022
West Franklin Family,
Wednesday I heard the most beautiful Christian message in a very surprising place. Current country music star Morgan Wallen (who rocks a killer mullet by the way) recently released a song called “Don’t Think Jesus.” When I saw the title, my first (and very judgmental) thought was, “oh great, another secular artist singing heretical thoughts about Jesus.” I was badly mistaken. It’s actually one of the best and accurate theological songs I have heard on the radio in a long time. Here’s the first verse, followed by the chorus:
Boy gets a guitar and starts writing songs
About whiskey and women and getting too stoned
He got all three at the first show he played
Hometown said, “I don’t think Jesus done it that way”
Boy moves to city lives fast and goes hard
Starts chasing the devil through honky-tonk bars
Ignoring the voices in his head that say, “I don’t think Jesus done it this way”
If I was Him, I’d say, “To hell with you, ain’t no helping you”
“Find someone else to give Heaven to,
I’m telling you”I’d shame me, I’d blame me
I’d make me pay for my mistakes
But I don’t think Jesus does it that way
After listening, I quickly found it on my music streaming service and listened on repeat. I kept thinking, “I don’t know anything about Morgan Wallen, but if he means what he’s singing – he gets it.” It’s a song about a boy who lives a wild and sinful life and assumes Jesus is mad at him, wants to shame him, pay for his mistakes, and give heaven to someone else. But deep down, the boy knows better: “I don’t think Jesus does it that way.” No, Morgan. No, He doesn’t.
After listening to the song a half dozen times, I thought about Luke 15 and the beautiful story of the Prodigal Son. That boy too, went wild. When he had “had enough,” he concocted a plan to try to appease his father who – like the boy in Morgan’s song – assumed was mad at him. To the Prodigal Son’s great relief – the father doesn’t “do it that way.” No, son. No, He doesn’t. Instead, in a sheer act of unmerited favor and grace, he embraced him, welcomed him, and threw a party in his honor. That’s the way Jesus does it. Grace.
What I love about this song is that we all (wrongly) assume that God is in heaven with His arms folded thinking, “To hell with you, ain’t helping you. I’ll find someone else to give Heaven to. I’ll shame him. I’ll blame him. I will make him pay for his mistakes.” But the song so beautifully reminds us Jesus  “don’t do it that way.” No, West Franklin. No He doesn’t.
Throughout the Bible we learn that Jesus is full of grace and truth. We find it in the most unexpected places. It shocks us. It explodes our imaginations. It shows us how wrong we have been about how He acts and responds toward us. That’s why I love this song. It, too, is grace in the most unexpected place. I don’t know if the mullet-sportin’ Morgan Wallen believes what he is singing. But that’s not my concern here. Do you believe what Morgan Wallen sings in this song? What do you think Jesus does? How do you think Jesus responds to your ways? Unless it is full of grace, I’m afraid you’re sadly mistaken.
Do yourself a favor today and (I can’t believe I am about to type this): worship your way through Morgan Wallen‘s new song. Then go and read the way of the Father in Luke 15. Let’s make sure we think right about the way Jesus does things.
I’ll see you in the morning with my Bible open to 1 John 4:7-21.
Lovin’ the Way Jesus Is and Does,
Pastor Matt

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