By definition, an asshole is, "A thoroughly contemptible, detestable person." The song is about someone who is just that. An asshole. And in that season of my life, I fully embraced what it means to be an asshole. No THING or PERSON or TOPIC was off-limits for me. Jokes exposing what I believed to be truth were paramount. Everything else had to die.
I would listen to the song in the morning to get myself into the mood for the day. I'd very literally sharpen my sarcastic and verbally violent edge in the mornings. I'd prepare ways to strategically be an asshole with the goal of reducing people who "believed" in something (anything really) to tears. Tears was the goal and I could do it startlingly often if I really tried and pushed as far as I could. I was extraordinarily good at this. I still am today to be frank. I just choose to not. One day my drama class had an alcoholism style intervention for me in an effort to shut me up in the name of common decency. I was very confused as the people who laughed at my jokes "lynched me" as I saw it. The reality was that I reveled in it.
I was telling this to a longtime friend of mine who didn't know that me today, and he made the comment that he was glad he didn't know me then... because I really was a jerk. And I was. The truth about life, is that the dark things still lurk inside us. Not that far below really.
So why doesn't my friend see me as that person who I still very much am? Because somehow, I've been transformed by the love of Jesus Christ to the point where I'm FREE to be the person I know I CAN be through the glorious gift of GRACE. I don't always act that way, but the desire for what's right, good and pure is present.
This may be my favorite depiction of the idea of grace from the book "Sin Boldly". It's written by Cathlene Falsani out of her discussion with Pastor Jean Larroux
"I think one of the greatest temptations for ministers is to talk about our sin in neatly packaged sermon illustrations so I can clean it up and sterilize it to the place where it's actually a subtle illustration of my victorious application of Jesus rather than a true illustration of the fact that I'm an asshole." This made me laugh out loud, settle in, and urge him to continue. "I mean, I come into work and I've got all this stuff going on and I snap at somebody and I'm just a real, live asshole. And grace in that moment, you can't neatly package. It's somebody throwing their arms around you and saying, 'I love you, but you are an asshole'"
Yes, but you're MY asshole, I envision God saying.
"Grace doesn't deny my assholeness," Jean said, "Grace can't be amazing until your sin is amazing. You've got to get in that place where you can be startled by it, because if you do everything right, you don't deserve it."
As I write this... I'm laying on the ground listening to a room full of University Students worship and pray in a 24/7 Prayer room. It's pretty beautiful really. Somehow, I've become a "leader" quote unquote. And I'm still an asshole in many ways. But I'm God's asshole... because what his son did for me. Receiving this forgiveness and grace unlocked me to touch places of freedom and beauty that I didn't know was there. It's allowed me to breathe rarefied air as I grow. I couldn't recommend it more.
Grace isn't an excuse not to change... it's the the freedom and context to do so.