The reaction of people, Christians included, to Christina Aguilera’s recent actions reveals much about the condition of our hearts.
When I first heard that Christina had flubbed a line or two while singing the National Anthem, I was horrified for her, knowing the embarrassment and how my own fear of public speaking would be enough to cause me to forget my lines too. When Christina tripped while performing a song during an awards show, I chalked it up to killer high heels and maybe a bit of klutziness, which I, too, have exhibited at times. When I read about her arrest for public drunkenness, I saw myself back in the fall of 1984, a 22-year-old living in Nashville out on an all-night bender. I, too, could have and should have been arrested for public drunkenness. So, as I’ve read about Christina, I have a very sober and realistic compassion for her, knowing that with this latest arrest, she has a long road ahead of her.
But as much as I share in common with Christina, I'm ashamed to admit that even a few years ago I would have lambasted her, just like I lambasted everybody who couldn’t seem to get their lives in order. It's the proverbial "Look who's calling the kettle black!" The Gospel of Matthew states it this way, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (7:3).
Which leads me back to what I was beginning to say about compassion. God, in His directive to continue with the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), has definitely renewed mine from one of “tsk-tsking” the fallen natures of stars and community members (whose mug shots adorn the web pages of my local newspaper almost daily) to one of compassion and sorrow. I am more able to see people from God’s perspective instead of my own, and am always reminded of God’s perspective of me when I was just as drunk as Christina Aguilera. And although God has removed much dross, I am still a sinner seeking His grace. Many planks have yet to be removed.
If we find ourselves delighting or scoffing at the trials of others, God can change our hearts. The Bible offers many examples of compassionate attitudes. The MacArthur Commentary Bible states that in the Old Testament, Jeremiah “identified with his people’s suffering as a man of tears.” In Jeremiah 8:21-22 Jeremiah cries out,“Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?”
The commentary adds, “Jeremiah cared so deeply that he longed for the relief of flooding tears or a place of retreat to be free of the burden of Judah’s sins for a while.”
It has taken a long journey with the Triune God for the condemnation I once had for the Aguileras of the world to be replaced with loving compassion and sorrow. For love “keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6).
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35