I admit it...I love to watch American Idol and will continue to do so until the end of the season! But this is a good article I came across...
And why I’m glad it’s God—not Simon Cowell—I strive to please
Yes, it’s true. I’m an avid watcher of American Idol. But I have to admit, it’s a love-hate relationship.
For five-plus years I’ve watched, mesmerized, as a new crop of 16- to 28-year-olds pursues what seems to have become the ultimate American dream—to become a Star (capital S required). I’ve sniffled at heart-tugging back-stories. Cheered triumphant on-stage “moments.” Cringed at mangled melodies. And growled in outrage over unjust eliminations. And yes, I’ve even chuckled at those spectacularly silly Ford commercials featuring the contestants.
Lately, though, Idol has begun to wear thin for me.
For one thing, events I previously viewed as twists of fate—the shocking boot of one contestant or the equally baffling longevity of another—are now often the result of blatant manipulation by the producers and judges. And even worse, what I once wrote off as simple drama, created to keep the show interesting, has become uncomfortably mean-spirited (another viewing of emotionally unstable Tatiana, anyone?). Whether Idol has changed or my eyes have opened, it’s just not the same fluffy fun anymore.
It’s gotten me thinking, though. As I watch those contestants pin their hopes, dreams, and futures on the whim of four human, all-too-fallible judges and a fickle American public, I’m so grateful that my happiness—indeed, my life—rests in much more capable hands. As I’ve mulled it over, I’ve come up with some specific reasons why I’m glad that I only have to worry about what God, and not Simon, Paula, Kara, and Randy, thinks of me.
First, God doesn’t care what I look like on the outside. Many times on Idol I’ve watched with sympathy and sometimes indignation as a talented performer is criticized not for vocals but for hair, makeup, clothing, or all three. Kristin, one of this year’s top-36 contestants, had a lovely, powerful voice. Yet her critiques consistently revolved around image—the purple streak in her hair or her clothing’s lack of trendiness. Given her treatment, and the fact that the top performers always seem to be easy on the eyes, if not downright gorgeous, I have to assume there are some incredible singers who never made the cut simply because of their looks.
Fortunately, God doesn’t care if I’ve got zits, limited fashion sense, or am having a bad hair day, er, year. He created me in his image (Genesis 1:26), and as if that wasn’t enough to show his regard, he sacrificed his only Son so I can spend eternity with him. He loves me as I am, where I am—no makeover or fashion sense required.
Second, God doesn’t play favorites. Though Idol’s judges proclaim their impartiality, it’s usually pretty evident that each has a favorite contestant or two. I’ve felt sympathy, irritation, and sometimes fury to see a contestant who did well bear the brunt of unfair criticism while another who gave a weak performance gets a free pass.
What a blessing to know our God loves and appreciates his children with complete impartiality. Without exception, he sees everyone’s sin (Romans 3:23) and freely offers us his love and redemption (John 3:16). Though on Idol only one contestant receives the prize, in God’s eyes every one of us who belongs to him is a winner.
And finally, God’s love never wavers. Season after season I’ve seen Idol contestants who initially received lavish praise and were favored to win, crash and burn after a single bad performance. One day they’re the judges’—and the audience’s—darling, the next they’re the punching bag. One mistake, something as simple as a poor song choice or a few questionable notes, and they find themselves booted from the competition, their dreams crushed. This year’s Alexis Grace was such a contestant. Once told she could be “the dark horse who might win it all,” a rough performance during country week had her headed home.
If God worked that way, kicking me to the curb the minute I mess up, make a poor decision, or act in disobedience to his will for me, I’d have lost all hope of ever finishing the competition I’m engaged in, the one for the “crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:25). Because the reality is, I find myself so often echoing the apostle Paul: “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Romans 7:18-19, NLT).
Fortunately for me, God is a god of second, and third, and fourth, and . . . chances. I can never mess up too much, cross the line too many times. His love and compassion for me know no limits. “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Praise God for his unending patience; I need it.
So this year I’ll cheer, and boo, American Idol with a whole new perspective. One of thankfulness, appreciation, and love for a God who not only wants me to win his competition, but does all he can to stack the deck in my favor.
Posted at 9:12 AM on March 24, 2009.