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Why I Gravitated Towards BTS’s Music

Screenshot taken from BTS ‘IDOL’ Official Video

Written By Sharon Lee, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese

My favorite K-pop boyband BTS has just released a new album. I was really excited to hear that they’ve set another record with the music video of their latest single, “Idol”. The video racked up over 50 million views within a day of its release—the highest hits for any YouTube video over a 24-hour period!

BTS’s latest record-breaking feat led me to ponder on the reasons behind their success. Why are so many people—including myself—drawn towards their music? After much thought, I concluded that BTS means so much to me because I identify with the issues their music addresses—especially the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty in our yearning for love and significance. Their songs remind me of a time when I was grappling with these emotions.

When I was younger, I was often troubled by issues relating to relationships and the future. When the time came for me to pursue a university education, I left the comfort of home for a foreign land and enrolled in a course of study that did not suit me. I also encountered conflicts in my friendships and experienced an emotional breakdown for the first time.

At that time, the future looked bleak and there seemed to be no way out of my struggles. I couldn’t understand what I was doing. Moreover, my mother had fallen ill and I was really worried about her condition. When I was alone at night, I would often think about everything that had gone wrong in my life and it brought me a lot of pain.

In an attempt to seek security and approval from others, I often frequented bars and night clubs, and had casual flings, just so I could numb the emptiness within. I also desired to live a life of significance—but my life showed no signs of moving in that direction. As a result, I drowned my insecurities and helplessness with these distractions.

However, my attempts to escape my feelings of emptiness and loneliness were futile. Instead, I felt emptier and lonelier within.

Just as I was about to hit my breaking point, God found me. One of my seniors at university shared the Gospel with me and brought me to church. At that time, I thought that church was dull and felt annoyed by my senior’s constant attempts to get me to attend church. But instead of avoiding her, I somehow found myself accepting her invitations and even started sharing my struggles with her.

I attended church and cell group regularly for two years, but nothing in my life changed. Looking back, I can see now that God has His perfect timing—but at that time, I grew even more frustrated with my life.

One day, my senior invited me to watch an Easter musical in church. Little did I know that God would change my life through this musical.

The musical was about a girl who tried to run away from God and became entangled in sin. But in spite of all that, God never stopped pursuing her and showing her how much He loves her. I felt extremely touched and couldn’t stop crying as I watched the different scenes unfold.

Somehow, the realization hit me that all these while, God knew my deepest emotions—my grievances, struggles, insecurities, sadness, and self-loathing—and understood them completely. Every line and song resonated with me deeply as my heart began to experience rest. My eyes were finally opened to the way out of my sorrows and predicament—Jesus Christ.

After I came to know Christ, I often wondered what would have happened if I had not turned to Him—would I still be attempting to escape and numb my feelings? What would my life be like if God had not found me and turned it around?

There is no doubt that BTS’s songs are empowering and inspiring, but nothing compares to the perfect love which only God can give. I had looked to so many things to fill the void in my heart, but all of them paled in comparison to that moment when His love awakened and overwhelmed me during the musical. That was what motivated me to leave my old ways behind and start my life afresh with the hope I now have.

Life is a crossroad, with many possible options that may lead us into unknown destinations. But I know that the God who loves me is walking with me. There will be times when I will be afraid, insecure and feel like giving up, but I can persevere and keep going because He is with me. Wherever life’s circumstances may lead me, God is the lamp onto my feet and the light onto my path (Psalm 119:105). I am not alone, and I will never have to face any struggles in life on my own again.

Every time I feel down and lonely, and reach out to BTS’s songs to draw strength, I remind myself to first turn to God’s Word and hear what He has to say to me. If you are facing similar struggles, and have been looking to the things of this world—whether it’s music, TV shows, or alcohol—for comfort, will you consider giving God a chance to speak into your life?

Can I Be A Christian K-Pop Fan?

Written By Lee Soo Yi, Malaysia, originally in Simplified Chinese

In 2007, a friend of mine introduced me to the world of K-Pop and it changed my life—I was in my third year in high school then. I bought into everything about K-Pop: the dashing good looks of the stars, their trendy dress sense, amazing vocals, and smooth dance moves. Just like that, I became a K-Pop fan.

I was obsessed with the hip-hop boyband, Big Bang. Besides spending a lot of money on their albums, merchandise, and concerts, I could go on and on with my friends on how good-looking they were. In university, I even spent almost 7000 NT (which is equivalent to approximately 216 USD) to watch their performance. I still remember that night vividly: the mood was exuberant, spirits were exceptionally high and everyone was singing and screaming to their hearts’ content. It was as though we didn’t have a care in the world. From that point onwards, I fell deeper and deeper into my obsession with K-Pop, or Big Bang, in specific.

I could not go on for a day without checking my phone for updates on Big Bang. I was constantly listening to their songs and regularly surfing their fan forums for the latest details about their lives. I was even called the “K-Pop Encyclopedia” because I knew every nitty gritty detail about K-Pop. And that went on till my second year in university, when I made a commitment to re-dedicate my life to God.   

Initially, I was extremely passionate about my faith. I cut down my contact with anything pertaining to K-Pop because I wanted to focus wholeheartedly on the person of Christ. But it didn’t last long. Gradually, my zeal started to subside and before I knew it, K-Pop took over my life again.

But this time, I struggled. In a bid to reconcile my faith with my interest, I decided to approach my church leaders with this question, “Can Christians be K-Pop fans?” They explained to me that it was fine to appreciate the beauty of Korean culture. However, we must be careful not to blindly idolize the Korean superstars such that they replace God’s place in my heart. While their statements made sense, I had no idea what it meant in the practical sense. To what extent then could I admire them? Could I still buy their albums, attend their concerts or fan meets? If their lives and actions were contrary to God’s Word, could I still like their songs?

So I continued to struggle whenever it involved a choice between God and Big Bang, such as, whether to attend church or their concert if it was held on a Sunday. I also found myself struggling to set aside time to read God’s Word and pray when what I really wanted to do was to watch their latest music video.

Deep down, I knew that Big Bang had slowly replaced God’s place in my heart and this could not carry on for any longer. While I knew what the right thing to do was, I struggled immensely. It was during this time that I decided to take these actions:

 

1. Pray to God.

I was trapped by my addiction to K-Pop and try as I might, I was unable to control myself and I did not know how to get out of it. That’s when I decided to turn to God in prayer and entrust all my concerns and struggles to Him. I asked Him to free me from my addiction to K-Pop and help me find true satisfaction in Him. I also prayed for wisdom to discern what I should and should not do as a K-Pop fan.

 

2. Acknowledge that K-Pop stars are just like each one of us.

It is alright for Christians to have hobbies, likes and dislikes. We tend to admire, like or notice those who are better than us or who are exceptionally talented. But the Bible tells us in Genesis 1:26-27 that God created man in His image—this applies to K-Pop stars too. They are created in God’s image and like us, are normal human beings (the sole difference being that they are public figures) and have failings. Once I acknowledged this truth, I was able to view them with the right perspective and not overly exalt them. It is not right to elevate any person or object to the status of God, unwittingly or not. As Exodus 20:3 tells us, God alone is worthy of the highest place in our hearts. He is the only one worthy of our wholehearted devotion and the only One who can satisfy our hearts like no other.

 

3. Make my interest count for God.

Initially, I tried to go cold turkey on everything that had the slightest association to K-Pop. I treated it as though it were a heinous sin. However, doing so only brought me great anguish and despair. One day, I had a sudden thought to pray to God and ask Him to give me wisdom to use this interest in a way that could serve Him. The thing is, I’m not exactly a relational person, much less one who would approach a stranger to share the gospel with him or her. But I was tasked by my church leaders to be involved in youth work and that required me to go out of my comfort zone. Initially, I had no idea how to start. But when I realized that a lot of young people like K-Pop, this interest of mine turned out to be a great conversation starter and bridge for me to establish rapport, and eventually share the gospel with them. This led me to the important realization that anything can be used for God’s work—even K-Pop. But here’s a caveat: I’m not saying that everything about K-Pop is permissible in light of the gospel. We still need to bear in mind 1 Corinthians 10:23 which says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.” It was only when I depended on God that I was finally able to see my K-Pop interest from God’s perspective.

 

4. Deliberately set aside time to spend with God.

Aside from asking for God’s help to curb our obsession, we can take other practical steps to guard our hearts. One way is to limit the usage of our mobile devices and instead, to spend time outdoors to admire His creation, reflect on His Word and on our lives. Let’s heed the call from James 4:8, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” I came to realize that drawing near to God brings unparalleled joy and peace to my heart, which I will never experience—no matter how many concerts I attend. It is only when we grow in intimacy with God that we will learn to be less anxious and less tempted by the things of the world.

 

5. Pray for your favorite K-Pop star.

Like I mentioned earlier, K-Pop stars are humans too. They are weak and they need God as much as we do. So let’s pray earnestly and fervently for them that they too would come to know our great God so that they can be a light shining for Him. In the earlier days, I remember being very encouraged by Big Bang’s member, Tae Yang, who would publicly profess his Christian faith at his shows. And I’m sure I was not the only fan to feel that way. In light of this, let’s pray for the stars we like, that they would come to know God, reflect His beauty and goodness in and through their lives so that others would see and come to know God personally.

 

I’m thankful to God for knowing my difficulties and struggles and for drawing me out of my obsession to K-Pop. While I’m still very much a fan of K-Pop, especially Big Bang, I no longer obsess over them like I used to or feel uneasy if I don’t watch their music videos every day. Instead, what causes me uneasiness is when I don’t read God’s Word or spend time with Him.

Deep down, I know for a fact that God alone is the Lord of my life and nothing can take His place.  

5 Signs that Something is an Idol in your Life

Written By Grace Debora, Indonesia

I was swept up by the Korean wave and became an avid follower of K-Pop in 2009. Back then, I was obsessed with the 12-member boy band, Super Junior. Every break time, my friends and I would gather and talk excitedly about our favorite members, gush over YouTube videos we had watched the night before, or share facts we dug up about them.

Pop culture has become an entrenched and essential part of the lives of young people today. Who hasn’t heard of the queen of pop, Taylor Swift, the popular British boy band, One Direction, or heartthrob Song Joong-ki of the recent K-drama hit, Descendants of the Sun? With the accessibility of information, it’s easy to find ourselves obsessing about our favorite “idols” and getting wrapped up in what’s going on in their lives. In my case, this pattern went on for about a year until God pulled me back and showed me that my life focus had shifted.

Today, the term “idol” is used flippantly to refer to celebrities or whoever we revere or hero-worship. But in the Scriptures, “idol” refers to foreign gods or anything that replace God in our life. In fact, the first commandment God gave to the Israelites was, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Amid a culture of idolatry, God explicitly commanded His people to worship Him alone.

And He demands the same of us today. But first, we need to identify what “idols” we have in our lives. For me, these were the signs that showed something else had replaced God in my life:

1. Time

The amount of time we spend on something reveals how important it is to us. When I was obsessed about Super Junior, I would spend all my time after school downloading and watching videos of them, and reading up about them.

2. Energy and resources

Along with time, we might find ourselves pouring our energy and resources willingly into cultivating our interests. I remember spending a lot of money on Super Junior’s albums, concerts, merchandise, and even on programs organized by the international fan club. Emotions-wise, I was so invested that I sometimes got mad at others who would bad-mouth my favorite artists—to the point that I found myself despising them.

3. Phone content

What we browse online, listen to, or view on our playlists or our social media accounts indicates what we’re preoccupied with. Back then, all the pictures on my phone were of Super Junior, my playlist had almost every song from every album they released and my social media accounts were flooded with updates by the fan clubs or the stars themselves. I followed many K-pop news sites and even signed up for an account in a foreign language so that I could follow their updates.

4. State of affairs

When God is not first and foremost in our lives, our lives show. Life becomes disorderly and things take a turn for the worst. During those moments where I lived and breathed Super Junior, I was sleep-deprived, haphazard in my school assignments, and lackluster in my service in church. Even though I followed a Bible reading plan, my mind was far away from His Word.  

5. Community

“Birds of a feather flock together.” That was evident in my life. All my friends were those who liked the same idol group and we did similar things together. At first, our conversation seemed lively and our friendship fun, but in reality, it brought me nowhere.

I started to limit my involvement in church, and did not bother to get to know others outside my group of friends who loved Super Junior. I also did not find it necessary to mingle with other friends—I thought my group of friends was the best. Later on, I found out that some friends stopped hanging out with us because they had felt left out.

 

Although God used friends, sermons, and devotions to sound the alarm in my life, I ignored the warning signs until one particular sermon forced me to question who I am and what I live for. That’s when it struck me that I had been wasting my life. Guilt and regret overwhelmed me when I came face to face with the reality that God was not the one I was worshipping; I had made Super Junior an idol.

So I repented. I deleted all the videos, threw away all the merchandise I had collected, and basically, removed all things related to Super Junior. It was hard at first—but that feeling only lasted for a week. The hardest part was not being able to keep up with the conversations. I tried changing the topic. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Nonetheless, I thank God that He helped me retain my friends. Moreover, God brought back the close friends I thought I had lost!

Idols may come in many different forms. It may be our work, social media, drama serials, or even our church ministry—anything that causes us to lose our focus and personal time with God. In college, I was addicted to watching movies. But thankfully, God made that known to me and enabled me to change.

God will not allow His children to remain in their sins. He wants us to live according to His plan and will. Therefore, He will use various ways to bring us back to Him. And if we recognize that God is prompting us to return to Him, let’s hurry back and return. Let’s put Him first and foremost in our lives.

Photo credit: mduangdara via Foter.com / CC BY-SA