Alastair and I share a guilty pleasure: Katy Perry. It would not be challenging for you to dig up videos of Alastair dancing to Katy Perry, nor should you be surprised if he drives by you with Katy Perry blaring out of the car. And more recently, we indulged in the Katy Perry movie Part of Me. We went to see it last week at the one of Vancouver’s sketchier theatres, which only made the extravaganza oh-so-much-more-indulgent.
The movie was everything we hoped for and more. I was actually really surprised about the honesty of her past: her parents’ itinerant Pentecostal preaching, her gospel album, her speaking in tongues (wha!?), and even her current relationship with God. They filmed her final bow in her last stadium packed concert and she closed her eyes, mouthing in sincerity:
“Thank you God, thank you God”.
I left the movie not only humming “this is a part of me” but also pondering her faith walk as compared to mine. There is something so appealing about her life—more than the fame, catchy music, glittery costumes, and magazine covers—she looks like she is having so much fun. I mean, that was pretty much the entire plot of the movie, “how Katy Perry’s entire life is about having fun and being crazy successful at having fun”.
Then I think about my life. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fun, but there has been a good amount of pain, sacrifice, and disgruntled griping in my walk with God. I think in broad strokes: moved away from family, friends, Florida, USA; left work behind; odd in a city where Christianity seems like a cult; don’t party and get drunk; don’t sleep around; don’t spend money I don’t have on things I don’t need; pretty much centre my life on being a follower of Christ, pursuing holiness, speaking truth in love, counselling, and basically being a missionary.
Am I an extremist? Am I taking this whole ‘Jesus thing’ too seriously? Am I supposed to be more like Katy Perry, find something I am good at, have fun, and tell God thank you at the end of the day?
I know it may sound strange, but Katy Perry challenged my faith.
Some of you may not be tracking, but I seriously prayed about this for almost a week. It got under my skin. It seems to be a way of life for many believers. Go about your business, have fun, and sincerely thank God every now and again.
It is actually rather tempting to me.
I start to think that maybe I could party a bit more, or buy nicer things, or give less away, or spend less time in prayer, or spend less time reading my Bible. I think of all of life I could enjoy. Even as I write this, it is still tempting.
There is some lie that our culture feeds us, “Don’t take things too seriously (especially faith, spirituality, church, and Jesus—cause he is no fun, his Father is a cosmic buzz kill!)”
After pondering this for a few days I realized Katy Perry did take something as seriously as I take my life: she takes her music, her brand, her identity very seriously. She has worked for years to get where she has wanted to go. She made huge sacrifices. In the movie she says, “I never thought I would have to choose between a relationship and a career, but apparently I do”. She says this after her marriage to Russell Brand falls apart. It is a heartbreaking realization: there is an immense cost to her pursuit.
So I guess the question at the end of processing this has been, “Is what you are working for, sacrificing fun and what-not for, worth it?”
Katy Perry sacrificed a lot for her fame and empire. Was it worth it? Will it be worth it in 50 years? Will it be worth it at the end of time? It might be for her, it might not. I can’t evaluate her Christian journey.
I guess this is a very serious question, but we all have to ask it: Will what you give your life to ultimately be worth it?
Maybe I am doomed to take life too seriously, or maybe that is exactly how we are supposed to take life. What you do with your life matters. And what you are living for has the ability to impact the world, the lives of the people around you, eternally.
As a Christian we are told that nothing is more important than knowing God through Jesus, and making him known to others. God’s glory—making Him known, praising Him, thanking Him, following His ways, obeying His commands, representing Him on this earth—is the most important goal of my life.
To me the lifework of giving God glory is worth every sacrifice.
So, Katy Perry challenged my faith and I am glad for it. The world will also be a tempting place. I hope God continually reminds each of us what is eternally significant so we can let go of minor pursuits in exchange for the pursuit of Him.