Rod Stewart Theology
As I thought introspectively about the impetus for this blog, I couldn’t escape a flashback of the cover Rod Stewart did of the song “If Loving You is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right” for some reason. In fact, I can remember listening to that song for the first time in 1977 somehow knowing it was not just saying something about an affair between a married man and a woman that he is erotically smitten with. Also lurking there was somehow something much deeper in my mind that told me this song was about much, much more as it relates to an age-old problem most of us seem to never shake. And perhaps understandably so. For the very real but unquenchable pull of what we feel, see and touch is a powerful seduction that most of us fall prey to time and time again; causing us to howl like a cat in heat, repeatedly choosing the satiating temporal over our perception of the inaccessible eternal. Is it any wonder then that when the disciple that Jesus loved tells us to “love not the world“, we would prefer to cast our lot with those on the “highway to hell” instead. For after all, the cure for what ails us seems nowhere in sight, and often times the world feels pretty damn good—for a season that is.
John is trying to tell us something though in I John 2:15-17. The text reads,
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions is not from the Father, but is from the
world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever” (NET).
This is something that we must pay attention to very closely. For if loving the Father is right, and yet we choose to be wrong (in bed with world), there is a juxtaposition that cannot be reconciled on the narrow path laid out for us. And it is this paradox that constantly wars against our soul, beckoning us to draw straws for that which we actually believe gives us the best bang for the buck in the here and now, in stark opposition to the best the Father has for us. And according to biblical history and our collective human experience, our public record is replete with examples that matter-of-factly illustrate the fact that our allegiances to one or the other do matter; both in the here and now (which is a point we often miss), as well as in that everlasting place that our hearts both secretly and restlessly long for. Yet for the life of us, it often is a day late and at least a dollar short in our ability to somehow let it under our skin.
The Root of the Problem
We are in fact given more insider insight to the age-old problem we’re forced to grapple with in Genesis chapter 3, when the author alerts us with a news flash across our cerebral screens that “when the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it” (Gen. 3:6 NET). The temptation of course was deeper than the sensuality of the forbidden that summoned her that we just mentioned, but went much deeper into the human psyche of the very distinct possibility of becoming the master of her own destiny, and of somehow putting herself in the spot of the God who was somehow holding her back from “my body, my choice” or, just fill in the blank. Evidently Adam also thought this was an equally grand idea; and coupled with the thought of sleeping on the couch, the passive male now entered onto the world stage for our abiding education.
But let’s not give Adam and Eve too much of a go of it, for if we had stood in proxy, we would have eaten the whole damn tree; roots and all! For it is in the very raw and organic nature of mankind to run like a moth to a flame to grab hold of anything that we have been told is off limits for us. Thus to deny the instantaneous satiety of the smoldering red stew on the fire, the Delilah-like “brick-house” promising ecstasy for the night, or the subtle lure of calling one’s own shots; this is indeed the trifecta that has told the sad tale of mankind’s unhealthy love for the world, rather than for the creator who understands the rules it mercilessly plays by.
The God-like Fool and His Money
John however adds some additional insight that is equally helpful to us in discerning a better way forward from the shape we are in. In fact, we learn that it is not only the trifecta aforementioned, but also lurking behind “calling one’s own shots” is “the arrogance produced by material possessions”. It would seem that the very god-like characteristics that money exemplars gives us the added ammunition to tell God to “take the job and shove it”, while adding a heaping teaspoon of pride that makes man think he’s “gangsta-rich” and thus invincible, even when he hasn’t got an eternal pot to piss in! And if there is such a thing as “creating a monster”, this is one now full grown and ready to rumble.
So then, at the risk of being repetitive, we already learned that the biblical story and our own tells the tale well. Yet for our further reflection on the matter, Ezekiel 7:19 also reminds us that just like our current lesson, part of the Israelites own dilemma, and a direct result of their exile was in recognizing that it was their “god-like” wealth that was actually the “obstacle leading to their iniquity”. Several chapters later Ezekiel even goes so far to say that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was much deeper than we assume at the surface, as he chimes in that the Lord’s very own chosen had now given them a run for their money. In fact, in chapter 16:48-50 we learn that it was their “haughtiness” and “carefree ease” that caused them to not only neglect the weightier matters of giving a damn about others less fortunate than they, but also was the main ingredient that ultimately caused them to do the “abominable deeds” that wiped them off the map in the first place. And then I all of sudden remembered this prediction that has still yet to come to fruition. Ruth Bell Graham once said (paraphrased) “that if God doesn’t punish America soon, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah”. But let’s not give America too much credit. Because the real problem with the world, as G.K. Chesterton once so eloquently put, is in fact just plain ole (you) and “me”.
Who’s Your Real Daddy?
So the question we must answer then is both a simple and complex one I’m afraid. But you probably already figured as much. For John clearly tells us to make a decision as to “who’s our daddy”, and we know the right answer. We’ve been in that class for far too long I’m afraid. The eternal difficulty however lies in dealing head-on with the enigma I put before us at the outset of our brief talk today. For if it is in our DNA to prefer loving what we know is wrong because of its temporary yet aphrodisiacal nature, and thus consequently continually choosing not to be right instead; then the answer, like the snake that should have already bitten us, has to be both a daily and disciplined choice. A choice of putting in our lot and our love with the right family. The family that we are told first loved us with a whole lot of blood poured out to prove it. For the world promises much yet delivers little once our finite dust is settled, and thus choosing who you will love is of a most epic proportion! And yet if we cannot learn from our own mirrored history, then as one wiser than I once said, “we are eternally destined to repeat it”.