In the gospels we observe Jesus extending hospitality to extreme outsiders. Jesus welcomed all sorts of extremely marginalized groups, Roman centurions, zealots, tax collectors, Samaritans, women, children, lepers, sinners, the demon possessed and prostitutes. Jesus welcomed the demented, the disabled, and the insane.
Sadly, the church routinely fails to display Jesus’ lifestyle of radical hospitality. Far too often the church fails to welcome the heathens.
The song “Heathens” was released in 2016 by TØP as the lead single of the soundtrack for the film Suicide Squad. The song has set records on the music charts and was nominated for a Grammy.
“Heathens” makes many of the points I try to make in Unclean. The speaker and audience of “Heathens” is unclear, but I’d like to read the song as Jesus speaking to the church, as TØP preaching to their fellow Christians. Read this way “Heathens” is both a prophetic rebuke to the church as well as an invitation into Jesus’ lifestyle of radical hospitality.
The song opens with these lines:
All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don’t make any sudden moves
You don’t know the half of the abuse
Both Jesus and TØP have friendships with “heathens,” relationships with the criminal, the immoral, the broken and the insane. They bring these “heathens” to the church. And the request is for the church to welcome these “heathens” with gentleness and compassion. Take it slow, church, don’t make sudden moves. People are fragile and weak. What you see on the outside will tempt you toward judgment and harshness. But you don’t know half of the abuse.
But judgment is hard to eradicate. As it says in the next verse:
Welcome to the room of people
Who have rooms of people that they loved one day
Just because we check the guns at the door
Doesn’t mean our brains will change from hand grenades