What might Jesus say to Miley Cyrus after Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards performance? While I’m not sure exactly what He’d say, there are several passages of from the Bible that give us a pretty good idea.
Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus that she is the kind of girl He came to spend time with.
There are a lot of religious types who won’t like to hear this, but it’s true. Jesus came to spend time with people just like Miley Cyrus. In the Gospel of Luke 5:30 the religious conservatives of Jesus’ day grumbled and said “why do you eat and drink with…sinners?” The answer? Because Jesus has compassion on sinners (Matthew 9:36), He loves sinners (Romans 5:8), and He came to call sinners to believe in Him (Luke 5:32).
So Jesus may well have gone to the VMA after party last night and sat with Miley and her crew (including the bears). That would not be unlike Jesus at all. In fact, that’s the very reason He left the holiness of heaven—to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom to people just like Miley Cyrus.
How do I know this is true? Not only because the Bible says so, but also because Jesus came to rescue me—and I’m no different than Miley Cyrus. For the first twenty-one years of my life I loved attention and rebellion and sexual promiscuity and the thrill of the moment. If we’re honest, none of us are that different than Miley Cyrus. We might not parade our sin in front of the world on MTV, but Jesus sees the depths of all of our hearts—and we’re deeply deceived if we think that commends us to God.
The good news however is that “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus came for people like me and Miley—and you. I’m certain Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus that she is the kind of girl He came to spend time with.
Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus that her sin is deadly for herself and for others.
Jesus would tell Miley that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (Jn. 10:10). He would say that while the sexual thrills and the power of captivating millions of viewers seems to be fulfilling her soul, she actually is being robbed of the true joy that only Christ can give.
Jesus would also remind Miley that in her interview with Barbara Walters in 2008 (go to 6:37) she was convinced that she’d never go as far into sin’s arms as she has. He’d say something like, “Miley, sin is deceiving you. It’s blinding you. It has told you it only wants a little, but it always wants a little more. Sin will never stop until it has consumed you.”
Jesus would also tell Miley that her sin isn’t just corrupting her own heart, but that she’s leading others to into temptation as well. He’d remind her that the eyes of millions of young girls look to her to learn what it means to be a woman. But rather than find an example that leads them to fear the Lord (Prov. 31:30), they find one more reason to give their hearts and bodies to fleeting lovers.
He’d remind her that through her lyrics and promiscuous ways she tempts men and women to lust after her. He might liken her to the temptress who leads people away from the Lord and into the “chambers of death” (Prov. 5:1-14; 7:1-27). Of course, Miley isn’t the only one leading people to sin, but she needs to remember “temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come!” (Luke 17:1). Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus that her sin is deadly for herself and for others.
Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus to come to Him and He will give her rest.
Sin is fun. That’s why we don’t have to be commanded to do it. There’s joy in the drink. There’s comfort in the caress. There is fun in the one night fling. There are laughs with the high. There’s adrenaline with the affirmation. Sin gives us pleasure—but that pleasure is always short-lived and it always leaves us empty.
Jesus would tell Miley that sin will never satisfy her soul because she was made for so much more. As Augustine, who once found life in orgies and drink, said “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” There is nothing down the road Miley is on but pain and sorrow with some cheap thrills along the way.
Jesus would say to Miley, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-30). He would tell her “There is rest from trying to keep everyone happy. There is peace for your haunting conscience. There is an answer for what you are seeking—and I am it.”
In the Gospel of John chapter 4 Jesus encountered a woman who was notorious for being wildly promiscuous. She had known many lovers, but they had all left her (or she had left them). When she spoke with Jesus, He told her that He could give her what she was looking for when He said, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus promised that woman who had never been satisfied in her life the answer for her soul’s craving—Himself. Jesus could heal her and take away all her guilt and all her shame and all her wounds. He could give her rest. But to have it, she had to leave her old ways behind.
Rather than let her stay in the darkness, He called her sin into the light and exposed her for who she really was. He said to her “you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband” (John 4:29). Because God is holy, He will not accept us in our sin. He desires to give us peace and rest, but there must be repentance. We cannot love both sin and the Savior. Jesus called the woman to choose.
By the end of the story, it appears that she chose to follow Christ. Jesus had given her that spring of water and she ran back to the town where she was a known whore and cried out to everyone “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). Jesus would tell Miley that He knows her sin and that it will not satisfy her—but He can. Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus to turn from her sin, to come to Him, and He will give her rest.
Jesus would tell Miley Cyrus that she will be judged one day and that she needs to get ready today.
We will all stand before God one day and give an account for our lives. This should sober us and cause us to take serious consideration of what we will say on that day. In the song Miley performed at the VMAs, she says “only God can judge us.” In one sense she is right. God is the final and ultimate judge. Only He knows our hearts and only He knows all our ways.
We should find not comfort in that idea however if we are not following after Jesus. In John 3:36 we are told that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” To rest in the mantra that “only God can judge us” should not bring us peace if we have not turned from our sin and trusted in Jesus. Instead, we should tremble at the prospect of standing before our Maker on that day when all secrets will be seen.
The good news is that God is a God who loves to extend mercy. In Ezekiel 33:11 He says “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…?” Jesus would tell Miley that she will be judged one day and that she needs to get ready today. The way to do that is to trust in the One who died for sinners like her, and like me, and like you and turn from our sins and follow Him.
Jesus would have much to say to Miley Cyrus, and it would sound a lot like what He has to say to the rest of us. Let’s not harden our hearts to His voice, but rather, let’s follow the One who came to save sinners like us. Pray that Miley would as well.