Thursday, April 27, 2006

A God by Any Other Name...

...ain't the same God.

Mary J. Blige, a popular R&B singer, believes that God wants her living in luxury and splendor. Do you think what she's hearing from the God of the Bible?

Mary J. Blige says she has found religion, but she makes no apologies for her earthly materialism. In fact, she says God has willed her to wear bling.

'My God is a God who wants me to have things,' the singer tells May’s Blender magazine. 'He wants me to bling. He wants me to be the hottest thing on the block. I don’t know what kind of God the rest of y’all are serving, but the God I serve says, "Mary, you need to be the hottest thing this year, and I’m gonna make sure you’re doing that".'

Blige also is not modest when it comes to her place in history. 'I do consider myself part of black history,' she told the mag. 'Since 1991, I’m still doing this and I’m successful. And I haven’t hurt anyone in the process.'(source)

I'm not trying to "bash" Mary. Her statements are, however, indicative of a great degree of confusion about who God is, and I think she's not alone in her misunderstanding of God's character and desires for us.

First, God warns His people about the love of money.

1 Timothy 6:10
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hebrews 13:5
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Matthew 6:24
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

God was not pleased with some of the women in Israel who were proud of their beauty and had haughty hearts. It makes sense to me that He would still feel this way; He doesn't change.

Isaiah 3:16-23
Moreover, the LORD said, "Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with heads held high and seductive eyes,

And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,
Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,
And the LORD will make their foreheads bare."
In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, finger rings, nose rings, festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils.

Notice that He is not going to take these things away because they're so bad and wrong. I believe--based on Scripture (see Esther, Song of Solomon, etc.)--that He has no problem with a woman looking beautiful or wearing feminine accoutrements. He will take these things away because of the pride in the women's hearts. They are idols unto themselves.

I'm not saying outright that Mary J. Blige is personally in that category. But if I were her friend, I'd tell her that statements like she made in Blender reveal that she doesn't understand who God is, and she is worshipping the wrong god if her "God" tells her to "be the hottest thing this year." Women, take heed! I speak to myself, too! It's too easy to get caught up in our appearance, or in love of things. What does God really say to women?

Mary's assertion that God wants her in expensive clothing and jewelry is refuted most directly here:

1 Timothy 2:9-10
Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

Proverbs 11:22
Like a gold ring in a pig's snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion.

Again, it's not that your husband can't get you a beautiful ring on your anniversary. It's not that you can't have something nice once in a while. The pertinent question is: where is your heart? Do you think God wants you to be the hottest thing out there?

And who in the Bible usually tempts people with such language as Mary is hearing from her "God"? Who tells people what they want to hear rather than the truth? Liars, and their father.

Genesis 3:4-5
The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

You know, myths like "God wants me to bling!"

The solution to this kind of deception is simple: know the Word, seek to apply it to your heart, and when the enemy says, "God wants you to be the hottest thing out there!", you'll know better. You'll know Him.