“I’m beautiful in my way/ Cause God makes no mistakes/ I’m on the right track/Baby, I was born this way.” No doubt, Lady Gaga knows a lot about showmanship and entertainment. Her recent concerts and videos are alive with throbbing eggs, pulsating tissues giving birth, and seductive dancers. Her music positively makes you dance, although it doesn’t necessarily make you think. The Lady knows a lot about show biz, but she has a lot to learn about life.
Her most popular lyric, Born this Way, has become an anthem for the new generation. The message is unmistakable: “Do whatever you want! It’s the way you were born so flaunt it.” It’s an ethic that sounds very appealing at first. The way you were born is obviously the way God wants you to be, so go out there and boldly do what you were born to do. Don’t be ashamed of anything. Never hold back. And maybe that works out okay if your genes and personality tend towards golf or tennis or accounting.
But what about that angry young loner named James Holmes? Should we be appalled that the deepest desire of his heart was to murder as many spectators as possible in that theater in Aurora, Colorado? Don’t judge brainy James: he was born that way! Then there’s Amy Winehouse, dead at 27, whose inclination toward music was surpassed only by her craving for the pain-free euphoria of addictive drugs. She really had no choice, did she? Bruce Springsteen was born to run. Amy was born to destroy herself. Then there are all those unhappy people you know who share the same boat with the Movie Murderer and the Dead Songstress: they are trapped in their genes, like it or not. Maybe even you have your demons you’d rather not spend the rest of your life with.
God knows that the way we were born is not the way we have to be. Popular culture insists you can only be who you are- nothing more. Jesus Christ says you can start over; you can begin anew; you can be born again. The Apostle Paul was a wretched man born to persecute people who disagreed with him, but he discovered the possibility of rebirth. Later he wrote, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love appeared, He saved us- not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to mercy- the the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit.” [Titus 3:5]
That’s why the death and resurrection of Christ will continue to resonate with real people long after Lady Gaga has gone the way of Madonna and Janis Joplin and so many other notable musicians born with the gift of song and a fear of self control. Jesus does for us what none of us can do for ourselves: unlocking the door to a new life. And he tells us that entry into the Kingdom of God requires that we first be born of water spilling forth from the womb, and then of the Spirit pouring forth from Heaven. You don’t have to be trapped by genes, personality or even bad parenting. You can be born again better. Run after Jesus.
And lift up the Cross!