One Less Problem

by Jason Herbig, worship pastor


In our "Rooftop on the Radio" series, we looked at six Top 40 songs in the hopes of engaging the culture from a Christian perspective. You can find those sermons here. B-Sides with Pastor Jason explores some songs that didn’t make the cut…

My friend Jo hates “Sam and Cat.” “Sam and Cat” is a show on Nickelodeon that teams up Jenette McCurdy as the titular Sam with Ariana Grande as her counterpart, Cat – two secondary characters in previous Nickelodeon shows that apparently occupy the same universe. And it's the only show she categorically refuses to watch when she babysits my kids. I’m pretty sure Jo’s biggest problem with the show, however, is not so much the thin premise as it is Grande’s Cat, the hyperbolically ditzy girl with an annoying voice. And I can’t say I disagree. So needless to say I was a little skeptical this spring when the entertainment world began to tout Grande’s forthcoming single “Problem” as a candidate for the coveted Song of the Summer title. But the song has done beyond well, topping out at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and going double platinum in its first two months of release thanks to its throwback R&B groove, catchy saxophone riff and hypnotic, whispering chorus.

Grande states that “Problem” is a song about “reapproach[ing] a relationship that’s gone sour – but you want to more than anything.” I can honestly say I have never felt that way about a girl. But Grande’s problem does remind me of a certain relationship that’s been a struggle for me most of my life – my relationship with my sin. For better or worse, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my sin for as long as I can remember. Maybe you have, too. It’s a fairly common problem to have. Even the Apostle Paul wrote about his own problem: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom. 6:15,19). Some might say, “What’s the big deal?” After all, the kinds of “evil” I typically get myself caught up in are fairly benign in the eyes of the world (like enjoying the gyrating beauties in the video maybe just a little too much). But here’s the thing about sin: it leads to death (Rom. 6:23). Perhaps that sounds overly dramatic, but I could go on for screens and screens about ways in which my sin has introduced or exacerbated destruction and pain in my relationships, my health, my activities, my emotional and spiritual well-being. And yet like artificial sweetener or red M&Ms, I crave it even in spite of the warnings of the cancer it might cause. So it would seem I have a big problem.

But the truth is, I don’t. You see, God sent his own Son, Jesus, into our world to solve our biggest problem. When Jesus died on the cross, he fulfilled the death our sin demands. Sin no longer has the upper hand in this relationship. It does not control me or dictate who I am. And I need that reminder on a daily basis to encourage me as I continue to strive towards the example that Jesus gave me. Because of him, I am no longer a slave to sin (Rom. 6:17-18).  I may have 99 problems, but that won’t be one. Like what.