5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
- Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV)
I realized that I’m officially old in a post office. Bon Jovi’s "Living on a Prayer" was playing on the lobby sound system. I turned to a teenager next to me in line and said, “I love this song.” Happily and sincerely, he responded, “Me too. I love the oldies.” The oldies. THE OLDIES! I wanted to stuff him in a box and ship him to Japan.
With some help from a skilled cadre of therapists, I’ve since recovered. I now own my oldness and my love of 80’s and 90’s music, so much that I’ve been building amazing playlists dedicated to both decades on Spotify.
Most recently, I added my favorite REM song, “Shiny, Happy People.” Oddly enough, it’s apparently REM’s least favorite song. The group's lead singer, Michael Stipe, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that "It's a fruity pop song written for children. It just is what it is.” Stipe continued, "If there was one song that was sent into outer space to represent R.E.M. for the rest of time, I would not want it to be Shiny Happy People.” So great was the band’s apparent dislike of the song that they didn’t include it on their 2013 greatest hits album.
However, the fact that they don’t like this song makes me like REM even more. Why? Because despite their personal dislike of the song, they were still willing to do a remake of it for children years ago on Sesame Street. They called it “Furry, Happy Monsters.”
Maybe I’m just being a little sappy, but isn’t it a beautiful thing when people love others enough to serve them, even doing what they don’t like personally to make others' lives richer and fuller? Knowing how much Stipe and the band didn’t like the song, yet seeing them joyfully sing it and further popularize it for the benefit of kids watching Sesame Street, makes the video that much more enjoyable.
Of course, as Christians, we believe that Jesus is the supreme expression of this kind of selfless service. He left the glory of heaven to walk amidst the garbage of our fallen earth not because he necessarily liked every aspect of it, but because he loved us.
Child of God: Today, you’ll face the choice of prioritizing and serving yourself or prioritizing and serving others to the glory of God. The good news is that you can let go of serving yourself because Jesus has already promised to serve you; he’s watching over and looking after you, right this very second. He frees you to transform your gaze from an inward to an outward focus, moving beyond self interest to the interest of others. As you believe and trust in Jesus’ care for you more and more, you can care for others the same. You’re free to love beyond your likes.
You’re loved. Don’t forget it.
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SOURCE: Andrew Marr (Nov 20, 2016). REM Talk Donald Trump on Andrew Marr show, Michael Stipe Mike Mills. YouTube. The Andrew Marr Show. Retrieved December 26, 2016. Cited in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiny_Happy_People#cite_note-2 (Retrieved 9.6.2017).