By Aaron Elder
“Ariana Grande Just Released ‘7 Rings’ And It’s All About Being Rich As Hell.” That is the title of a piece written for Elle magazine by Alyssa Bailey (January 19, 2019) regarding the release of a (then) new song by Grande. In the article, she is quoted as saying, “Seven rings is jus like…a flex.” I came across this song listening to Spotify and it was very puzzling. Is this song for real or is it a parody? Well, despite my hope for the latter, the article mentioned above gave me my answer.
This song, as Grande mentioned, is all about flexing (see slang: flaunting wealth) which is afforded her largely on the backs of young girls. At the same time I first heard this song, I was reading and pondering Psalm 10. In many ways, ‘7 Rings’ would be an anthem of the wicked lamented and described by the psalmist. As you’re probably used to me doing, rather than pointing the finger at “them,” I want to turn it upside down and shake it and see where I have the opportunity to grow and mature.
As a Christian living in a world of ‘flexing,’ I’m often tempted to think I need to flex back – and harder. Except that the currency I’m flexing isn’t cash – it’s ‘truth.’ To be clear, this is little ‘t’ truth, not the absolute capital ‘T’ truth of Jesus Christ and his gospel. In the same way that cash creates identity and status, so too does ‘truth.’
It is the ‘truth’ of topics like predestination, social justice, politics, eschatology (to name but a few) and my certainty about such that create a sense of identity and status. I will flex on my topic de jour even if it hinders my relationships. The reason I do so is the same reason Grande (presumably) does – I want to be seen in a certain way to fit in with a certain group. To be alienated from that group would be my ruin… or would it?
We take our cues from Jesus who elevated people above the ‘truths’ of his day. He was absolutely irritating to the religious leaders, not because of his theology, but because he refused to flex the way they did. He was willing to be misunderstood in order to include those with nothing to flex. His alienation ruined him – he died on a cross. It was a death surely needed for resurrection.
So what about me? Is it ok to hold positions on these ‘truths’? Certainly. It is important (and necessary) for people to hold positions on matters of truth, but as a good friend commented, posture also matters. As someone who has had his mind changed on virtually every ‘truth’ topic (some more than once!), I’ll save my flexing… say, which way to the gun show?