Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Christina Grimmie: Her Mission Has Just Begun

Christina Grimmie in the Philippines (credit to owner) 
Once again, the time has come to celebrate with gratitude the life of a beautiful human being, the 22-year-old popular singer, musician, and songwriter Christina Grimmie. It is painful to remember that we lost her three years ago, yet in a mysterious but real way she remains as a light that continues to shine in a dark world, a light that only grows brighter with the passage of time.

Christina Grimmie was killed on June 10, 2016 in the very place where she gave herself the most and received in turn so much encouragement, namely, in the midst of her supporters, those who appreciated her music, followed her and interacted with her on internet platforms, and knew that she cared about each of them and wanted to meet them or see them again. She was surrounded by these "frands"—people who were inspired by her as an artist and a person, and who were drawn together from many diverse backgrounds into an experience of community.

"Team Grimmie" united people all over the world into something much more than just a "fanbase." For them, it was a human connection with an artist who shared her music and her personality, her vulnerability, her hopes and her needs with them. She also told them again and again that she loved each of them, and she meant it. For Christina, it really was a matter of love. She saw each person, not simply as a fan or part of a crowd celebrating and bolstering her ego, but as someone entrusted to her by God. At the same time, she found the embrace and sustenance of God's love in the people she encountered.

Christina therefore saw it as her mission to be a role model, to encourage, to inspire, to be (for however brief a moment, in whatever small way) the presence of God's beauty and love for every person who was touched by her work. This is why the greeting sessions after her concerts were so important to her. She brought to them a heart full of gratitude for "frands" who had supported her for years and an open heart for newcomers, a readiness to share her passion for music and whatever she could give with whoever came to meet her.

It was in this manner that she approached the last moment of her life, on the night of June 10. She greeted and spoke with and gave hugs to the people who came up to her. Some she had met before, but for others it was the first time, so when a stranger approached her, there was nothing unusual about it. She opened her heart and opened her arms to welcome him, to create a space of encouragement and love for him. Only God knows what manner of darkness drove that man to draw a semi-automatic pistol and shoot her.

He killed her. But he could not stop her from loving him. He could not erase the gesture of love that was offered, in that moment, without reservation.

She knew the love that is more powerful than even the greatest violence in this world.

Christina Grimmie, with all her talent and energy and hard work, had "something else" that transformed what she did, how she made music, how she engaged people. And, while always respectful of people with different viewpoints and never pushy, she made no secret of the source of her joy and her motivation, the "something else" at the foundation of her life, the reason why she sang, why she breathed, why she had hope: Jesus Christ.

Christina was a very normal girl with lots of different interests. She wasn't "perfect." She made mistakes and struggled with frustrations and endured much suffering. But everything was grounded in and brought back again and again to her simple and boundless trust in Jesus Christ. This was the foundation of her radical witness as a Christian -- her "mission" to live for the sake of His glory.

Ultimately it was not her own strength but His grace that shaped the scope of this mission. She gave herself to Jesus and He fashioned her into an "instrument" of His wisdom and love that was specially suited to the present time. By the Holy Spirit, Jesus put His love into her heart and through her He touched the lives of people. Trusting in Him, Christina lived as a young person in the places where other young people today spend their time. It was not any kind of "strategy for witness," or any kind of strategy at all. She was simply herself, living her own personal vitality and interests in union with Him and thereby allowing that love to extend to places where it is not often known, letting it shine through her own face, making it visible and audible and -- in places like concert venues -- even "tangible." It was the love of Jesus, because as she herself said, her belonging to Jesus was not just part of her life; it was her whole life.  .

What is really remarkable is the simple, unselfconscious, incarnate character of Christina's service to God. She wasn't a preacher or an evangelist. She didn't sing worship music or even Christian-themed music (except on a few occasions). She sang regular songs about relationships and heartbreak and fun. She kept her morals in her music and in the way she presented herself, without being a prude or heavy-handed. She didn't condemn people, but sought out and encouraged what was genuinely good in others. She was fun and not afraid to be a little wacky, full of joy, down-to-earth, dedicated, and humble. She had an enormous heart. And, wow, she could really sing!

She gave all of this to Jesus, and lived everything for His glory. This is why He was able to work through her to reach out to people who weren't interested in hearing sermons. He worked in hidden ways to draw people closer to Him, to begin to open their hearts through her joy.

Even now His love is at work, through the enduring light of her special witness, in hearts that have never thought or cared about God before. Even now, when people encounter Christina's legacy for the first time, they may be "caught off guard" and find themselves gently but persistently drawn toward something beyond all they have ever known: the embrace of Christ. Through the beauty of Christina's art, and the many readily accessible expressions of her free-spirited sense of fun, her unassuming goodness, and all her magnificent passion to pour herself out and constantly give of herself, people can still be moved by the tenderness and goodness of the God who has loved them first.

Death is far from the end of Christina's mission. She has been taken up into Christ's love, and now there is an exponentially greater power to her witness, and fruits beyond anything we can imagine.

There is no way to reduce the agonizing grief of her family and those closest to her, and the sorrow of everyone in the Team Grimmie community remains real and painful. Yet we know that somehow even all this is working a deep work, drawing hearts together, cultivating love in the spaces of the brokenness.

Christina's mission continues. The seed has been sown, and the Lord will continue to give the growth to this love, to the gift of a whole life lived "with love." He will bring forth whatever He wills in His infinite Love.

There will be new stories of hearts touched, of lives changed. Perhaps there will even be miracles.

It wouldn't surprise me.💚