When I heard the words “Get your sexy on” while listening to the radio, I started to change the station, but ironically, I’m glad I didn’t.
It was the song “Try” by Colbie Caillat, which came out earlier this year. The song starts like an encouragement to be sexually promiscuous, but as I was listening to the song, the music didn’t seem to fit the mood. It wasn’t your typical sort of energetic party song, so I thought there might be more to it. So after Colbie sang “don’t be shy girl/take it off” she said this:
You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing
The message of the song isn’t what you’d think it would be by glancing at the first verse, but each verse is capped by a small, but important phrase: So they like you/Do they like you?
I don’t commonly expect this sort of depth or contemplation from mainstream artists, but Colbie Caillat has hit on an important issue that transcends cultural boundaries to something that everyone can relate to – peer pressure. After, it’s peer pressure that tells you to take that first drink, to smoke that first shot, to have sex with your boyfriend that first time, to utter those first swear words, and to tell that first dirty joke. But a few more Saturdays with those friends and you find yourself an addict to booze, drugs, and sex, broken and ultimately alone.
So was it worth giving it all away just to make them like you?
Oddly enough, Colbie Caillat is driving home the exact same message that Paul was getting at in Romans 12:2, when he says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” While “Try” may not be driving home focus on God as the source of self-worth and satisfaction, she’s bringing up a very important point: the standards of the world are ridiculous, and by running after them with bated breath, you’ll sacrifice your entire being to get the approval of some people that couldn’t care less about you. They’ll use you and toss you to the side like a nasty slab of old meat. That’s the future you’re looking at if you conform to the world.
And there’s an interesting point to be had here that’s easily overlooked. Colbie’s point that “You don’t have to change a single thing” is exactly what the gospel message teaches. Now, the gospel does not teach that God has no expectations of us; certainly that’s not the case. It does not teach unconditional salvation. It does, however, teach unconditional love from God to us. Paul says again in Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It’s wildly frustrating to try conforming to the world’s values. You’ll end truly broken and alone. But you don’t have to change a single thing about yourself to make you valuable to God, or to make him “like” you. God demonstrated how valuable He believes you are in that before you ever did good, before you ever started acting right, God sent His son to die for you. So while our value is not determined by superficial things such as external beauty or a suave personality, it’s also not to determined by our moral actions. God places value on us simply because we are His, and we always will be.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” – 1 John 3:1