I have a confession to make: I watched the 84th annual Academy Awards. I have been watching the Oscar ceremonies since I was a litttle kid. I have always loved watching them; and it's been an annual ritual for Jenny and me since we've been married!
I have another confession: I always watch with a slight tinge of 'Gee, I wish I were one of those people!' They seem so together, so talented, so beautiful...so everything I wish I were!!
I know, I know! It's silly...it's vain...it's so, well...Hollywood!
I lived in Hollywood in days gone by. I know some of the folks that are in that business. Jenny and I are good friends with one fellow who is now a movie star...and soon to be a HUGE movie star!! One of the most celebrated movie composers in the world used to play piano for 'Bert and Marty', a singing act I had way back in my youth in New York City!
I can't help thinking sometimes, while watching the Oscars, that, as Marlon Brando so famously said in a scene from 'On the Waterfront': "I coulda been somebody; I coulda been a contender!" If only I'd done things a little differently, if I'd met the right people, if I'd worked a little harder...!! Perhaps I coulda had what those lucky folks have!!
Yet, strangely enough, after watching this year's presentation, I found myself grateful to have something many of them don't seem to have: SHAME!
Let me explain! I know that Yeshua---Jesus---took away my shame when He died on that cursed tree! I realize I am 'saved by grace' and don't have to bear the shame of my transgressions against my God! I know...and rejoice...in all that! That's not what I'm talking about!
True: Many folks who win the coveted Academy Award thank their peers, their wives and families, their mom's and dad's and...very occasionally...their God! There are numerous hard working, down to earth, truly professional people who just happen to work in the movie business.
Then there are the others; the ones whom the world adores and strives to be like; the ones who are the reason we watch the Oscars in the first place! The movie STARS!
Even amongst the stars there are strong families, normal children, healthy relationships with friends, family and co-workers. That is truly admirable in that environment, and they are to be commended for it.
But then there are the others. The ones over whom the media fawns and the public clamors to see and be around. It's amazing to observe people who follow Hollywood celebrity; you know---the ones craving to know every detail about stars' lives, existing vicariously through them, hoping to maybe...someday...hopefully have a life even remotely as glorious and glamorous as theirs! You know...people like me!! (Kidding...I HOPE!)
So, I reflected on this year's festivities, as one does the morning after the night before. For some reason, this time, I couldn't help thinking that the hype about the Academy Awards exceeded the actual event. There was a camera shot of a well known---but not particularly celebrated actor---sitting in the hall, not surrounded by adoring fans, empty seats flanking his, and surrounded by what seemed to be a noticable lack of excitement. It was just a guy---in a theatre---watching the proceedings, registering nothing notable on his face, either of pleasure or displeasure.
Up in the front rows, however, were other celebrities, movie moguls and screen stars. Amongst that group were folks living together outside of marriage, having children outside of wedlock and engaging in 'alternative' lifestyles. Yet...they sat there...smiling and taking it all in, being feted by the press, honored by their industry, celebrated by an adoring public worldwide.
I'm not begrudging them that. As a matter of fact, they should enjoy their reward here..in this age...in this world. For there is a time coming when they...as well as all of us...will stand before our Creator and give an accounting for the lives they---and we--- have lived here on earth. (Gulp!)
In that day, 'Oscar' will be of no help to them. Only Yeshua--- Jesus---is up to that role!
In that day, we will all cast our 'crowns'...and our gold statuettes, if we have them...down at His feet and bow and declare Him, LORD!
Don't get me wrong! I am not sitting in judgment of them. I STILL fancy what it would be like to be part of that world. But, as once was said by the biggest star of them all...the Bright and Morning Star, in fact...: "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man---(or a woman)---give in exchange for his (or her) own soul?
That's where the aforementioned 'shame' comes in! Believe me: I KNOW I will have much to answer for when the envelope is opened and MY name is called! Let's put it this way: I don't see myself giving any long speeches thanking the 'academy' for my award!
Perhaps, in that final day, there will be some 'reward' coming my way. I certainly hope so! Should there be, I will accept it on behalf of my Lord and Savior who--through His mercy and grace---made my performance---such as it is---possible!
But I know this above all: I will be truly grateful I was a person who had the capacity to be ashamed of my sin!! Yes---I mean sin!! We don't talk much of it these days, but that's what it is! Just plain old sin! And I am prone to it and guilty of it! Apart from the shed blood of the Man from Galilee, the perfect Son of G-d, I would be lost forever! But I'm not.
Furthermore, I have no ability to judge who, in that august Academy gathering, is lost---or found! This I know, however: the best thing that could happen to their career---and their lives--- would be, not the recognition of their accomplishments by their peers, but a recognition of their accountability to the God who created them!
I can't believe I'm saying this; I who am no celebrity, not famous, not one of the 'beautiful people': How sad that they can receive the applause of men, telling them that they're great, and not feel the slightest bit of 'shame' over the lives they are living, in front of God and everybody!
It's not that they're bad people. It's not that they don't have a heart and are not trying to do their best.
It's not that I am any better than they!
It's simply this: I give thanks to God that I am sorry for my sin and can feel shame for all the ways I have not lived up to His holy standards, bringing dishonor to myself and to His precious Name! I am glad I never 'succeeded' in 'show biz' in such a way that I might never come face to face with my sin---and find forgiveness in my Messiah, Jesus!
I can't say I won't watch the Academy Awards again. I can't say I won't be feel tempted to feel a bit envious of celebrities and privately wonder what it would be like to be a movie star. I can't say I wouldn't like to have the experience of saying: 'I want to thank the Academy for this award!'
I simply know this: I will be FOREVER grateful that I bowed my knee to the Lord of everybody and everything---even Hollywood---and pray that, when that final 'award' ceremony happens, I will be able to walk that carpet---'red' with the blood of my Redeemer---with those of whom it is said: ''Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness like the STARS forever and ever." (Daniel 12:2)
May I hear, after it is said, 'The envelope, please!': "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"
That is the one and only true award worth having!
May it be---for all of us!