One of the most “thumbed-up” comments for this video reads: “18k priests disliked this video.” Given the cursing, vulgarity, and out-right rebellion before God and the Christian faith it might seem obvious. (Viewer discretion is advised!) Still I think Hopsin’s message has something to say to all of us.
The video has 40 million views (or more by the time you are reading this) and I would venture to say that the number of sympathizers in the world is much greater. While I can’t disagree more with Hopsin’s conclusion, I am going to venture to say that anyone who is honest – be he a fervent Christian or not – has a “Hopsin” within.
The path towards a mature faith demands that we look “Hopsin” directly in the eyes and take him seriously. On some levels, he is right about a lot of things. Human life – and even our daily experience of trying to live the Christian life – can be outright exasperating, full of contradictions, disillusions, and sometimes the supposed “answers” that we give ourselves just make it all the more unbearable.
We can never forget: the joy of faith is no stranger to the sorrows of this life. Just like the light of faith that shines in the darkness and the Son fo God who reigns on the cross, so too we must learn to live that joy in the sorrows, that trust in rebellion, that strength in weakness. This is the path of an authentic faith.
If everyone is created by God, why does evil exist? If man’s heart was made for God, why does he struggle so much to find Him? Why does “salvation” so often feel a lot like “slavery?” If God wants a relationship with me, why does He seem to hide? If faith is so beautiful, why do I have this experience of hating the fact that I have to believe? If the faith speaks so much about mercy, why do guilt, judgment, and fear seem to bombard me from all sides? If Jesus is truly among us, why are so many oblivious to His existence, or worse, why do those who claim to have found Him live so often is if He wasn’t? Why atheists? Why the scandals? In a few words, what is the whole point of this “Christian life”? Life can be miserable, why add the weight of the “cross” to it?
Today’s video asserts a challenge for anyone who has decided to give witness to Christ in his or her life. Many people have heard a lot of words and exhortations about the faith and Christ, but few have really been introduced into a living experience. For some reason, many feel as though we’ve taught them the steps to the dance, but they can’t hear the music. Sooner or later, they get fed up.
(Warning, again – Viewer discretion advised. This video contains a lot of profanity.)
If you aren’t living an authentic Christian life, if you haven’t sat down in the chapel and had your “Hopsin moment” of demanding for God to show Himself, now is a good time. More than convincing rhetoric, people need Christians who have lived their own experience of Exodus, their own experience of walking in the desert, but who continued to trust in faith until they rediscovered the God of love and mercy.
If you want a companion on this journey, the book of Job is a good choice. Job offers us an inspired example of what it looks like to “wrestle” with God. Job shouts at God not because he doesn’t believe, but because he wants to believe. When life seems to reveal an unmerciful and even sadistic God, Job refuses and demands time and time again that the true God reveal Himself. Job fights because he has faith.
The main difference between Job and Hopsin isn’t the accusations, complaints or even the blasphemous statements, it’s the fact that Hopsin walked away (at least in the video) and Job did not. As a seminarian, the only thing that I didn’t really like about the video is that it ended too soon… that the fight didn’t continue! You unleash your rage like that for 5 minutes, only to end by saying that you want to have fun?
When someone complains about their experience of the faith, the first thing we have to do is to live compassion, that is to enter into their “passion.” Things like but “God is real” or “God truly loves you,” are certainly true, but these words can only be healing to the listener if we have first understood and experienced what the other person is going through.
If people feel that they can only share the “acceptable” side of their faith and not their struggles, sooner or later they will explode. Many times, it’s not God that is the one who is afraid of hearing critiques and condemnations, it’s us. We are the ones who are afraid of questions to which we can’t find any easy answers.
Hopsin is honest when facing his refusal to believe. While it sounds liberating at first, the idea that “we decide who we are” is actually quite disenchanting. If it is really up to us, that means that freedom is simply a pipe-dream. Human fate is completely in the hands of those who wield the greased influence. Survival of the fittest, death and slavery for the rest.
What do we do when facing up to this grim reality? Hopsin gives a very honest – and sadly pathetic answer: “have fun.”
The word “fun” comes from the Middle English fon “make a fool of it.” Basically, let’s be fools, let’s turn our heads and look the other way.
So here comes the question: That’s it? That’s your answer? Let’s party? Let’s just be clear here: your answer to the big questions is that you are going to party, have fun, and then die. While that answer is absurd enough, I can’t help but to think about all those who do not even have that option, what do we say to them?
You complain that the Christian life is too absurd, you say that society enslaves us, and you think that “partying” makes you anything more than a different kind of slave – a slave to your own ego, a slave to those passing sensations that prove emptier and emptier with each puff and swallow? What kind of answer is that?
Have you ever looked up in the Bible the words Jesus says about suffering? Curiously, He doesn’t say a word. He never explains it. If there is anything in this existence that scandalizes and trips people up when it comes to believing it is suffering. Why, then, the silence?
In reality, Jesus does indeed answer. In John’s gospel we read about the first encounters with Jesus: “Jesus turned. He saw them coming after him. He said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’ They said, ‘Teacher, where do you live?’ Jesus said, ‘Come and see.’ They went and saw the place where Jesus was staying.”
As you can see, Jesus doesn’t give answers, He indicates a path to walk. Jesus doesn’t offer bite-sized answers that you can chew easily and continue on with your day. More than anyone, Jesus knows the seriousness of the accusations made against Him, whether they be the accusations of the Pharisees in his time or the accusations of men like Hopsin in our own, or even the accusations that we all harbor in our own hearts. He knows. He hears.
This is precisely why He never presumes to give a pat answer, at least not in the form that we would expect. Christ doesn’t give an “answer” about suffering, He takes it upon Himself on the Cross. More than anyone else, Christ experienced the temptation to deny God (the Father). More than anyone else, He felt in his own flesh the scathing wounds of the absurdity of this world, the contradictions of the Church’s weakness, and the scandalous path that faith in God asks of us. Having every “excuse” to go his own way, Jesus obeyed and trusted in the Father’s plan. Completely aware of our pains and protests, Jesus never ceases to invite us to “come and see.”
The radical novelty of Christ’s answer isn’t the fact that He promises to take away or resolve suffering. It is the fact that, in Him, our suffering will be transformed. Shadow will become light; death will become life. If there is any “proof” of Christianity’s authenticity it’s not the absence of suffering or scandals. It’s the fact that with that suffering and in the midst of those scandals, the faith continues to persevere and give life. That is truly divine. That is when we “see” God.
As a final note, let’s be clear on this. First “Come,” and second “see.” Not the other way around. Hopsin says he will act in God’s name if only He would show up, but that’s not the way things work. If He is playing by our rules, He is certainly not God. God can’t reveal Himself to us if we want to play God.
As you may see, my goal in writing this article is not to try to respond each one of Hopsin’s critiques. Above all, I want to affirm the fact that part of the path of faith does include moments of “fighting” with God. Christ never promised us that we would be given all the answers or that there wouldn’t be days when we “hate to believe.” What He did promise is that even in those moments of pain, confusion, and even rebellion, He will never stop calling, loving, and forgiving us. He is and will be with us through it all.
This was my attempt at a response, how would you respond? Leave a comment below!
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