Jesus is Better
When attempting to respond to Lil Nas X's "Satan Shoes" and "Motero" video, the author found a greater thirst for Jesus.
“Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
That’s a quote from Satan in John Milton’s classic, Paradise Lost. Montero Lamar Hill, a.k.a. Lil Nas X, featured the quote on the (since-changed) website of his infamous “Satan Shoes.” They rolled out in March alongside his music video for “Montero.” With his Satanic references and emphasis on homosexuality in the music video, Hill is telling us he wants sin more than God.
I’ve thought for a while about how to respond to Hill, and if there’s any warning for me in my own relationship with God. My conclusion is to respond to Hill by praying God brings believers into his life to show him that Jesus is better than sin. And to make sure I’m persuaded of the same.
What We’re Believing When We’re Sinning
The thing is that even as Christians, we fail to realize the worth of Jesus. I’ve realized I do this every time I sin. For as long as I’m choosing to continue in my sin, I’m thinking my sin is more desirable than closeness with Jesus. Realizing this mistake has been helping me to recognize what I really want.
I can spend hours having negative thoughts and focusing on things that are not for me to focus on — dealing with fear, worry, lust, anger, pride or judgement. And you know what? Feeling connected to Jesus is hard after that. It’s not that He’s not there, it’s that I’ve taught my heart to be disconnected. Having joy and encouragement to offer others is hard after that. Feeling excited about spiritual realities is hard after that.
In fact, for years I’ve had a lifestyle of negative thought patterns, when I could have been praying, meditating on scripture or being otherwise productive. And in many ways I’ve felt spiritually unfruitful at the same time, like I have little to offer others. I have allowed my sin to harm my relationship with Jesus and therefore my partnership with Him in loving others.
Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:12: “There will be such an increase of the sin of lawlessness that those whose hearts once burned with passion for God and others will grow cold.” Sin decreases our love for God. With his recent art, Hill is cultivating a heart that wants sin more than Jesus. I want to cultivate a heart that wants Jesus more than sin.
Cultivating Our Desires
How can we do that? How can we teach our hearts to want Jesus more than sin? How can we take up our cross and follow Him? For me, it’s been looking like telling Jesus that I want him more than the sin I’m finding myself falling into. “Jesus, I want you more. Help me,” is becoming a regular prayer for me. It’s looked like realizing my negative thoughts really are sin because they’re disconnecting me from God’s truth, and realizing the way sin harms my connectedness to Jesus and to others. And realizing the way these thoughts negatively impact my levels of joy and unselfish love.
Also, being involved in a prayer and worship ministry, being more deeply connected to Christian community and being open and unashamed about my prayer needs are also helping to starve out my tendency towards negative thought patterns. Being around others who give their lives to Jesus spurs me on to see more ways I can give myself to Him.
He’s Our End Goal
Scripture tells us Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). Meaning, he had a goal in mind. He saw the end goal of us in passionate relationship with Him and His Father, reigning alongside Him. He told the Father the desire of His heart is for us to see Him in His glory and be with Him where He is. If I can want that too, I can also take up my cross and follow Jesus.
There’s an end goal to all this: Knowing Jesus — the most beautiful man. Really knowing Him in intimate partnership with His desires. Working with Him to bring the realities of Heaven to earth. I want that fruitful relationship with Jesus that actually makes a difference in my life and the lives of those around me. Which is why I don’t want to give myself to the thoughts and actions that are in opposition to God’s love and truth. The thoughts that distract me from knowing Him.
Jesus is worthy of all my love. And He’s worthy of all Montero Lamar Hill’s love. When sin seems desirable, may I remember: Jesus is better.